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Shaping of the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States


  • Madestam, Andreas

    (Bocconi University)

  • Yanagizawa-Drott, David

    (Harvard University)


This paper examines whether social interactions and cultural practices affect political views and behavior in society. We investigate the issue by documenting a major social and cultural event at different stages in life: the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States during the 20th century. Using absence of rainfall as a proxy for participation in the event, we find that days without rain on Fourth of July in childhood shift adult views and voting in favor of the Republicans and increase turnout in presidential elections. The effects we estimate are highly persistent throughout life and originate in early age. Rain-free Fourth of Julys experienced as an adult also make it more likely that people identify as Republicans, but the effect depreciates substantially after a few years. Taken together, the evidence suggests that political views and behavior derive from social and cultural experience in early childhood, and that Fourth of July shapes the political landscape in the Unites States.

Suggested Citation

  • Madestam, Andreas & Yanagizawa-Drott, David, 2012. "Shaping of the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States," Working Paper Series rwp12-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-034

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2015. "Preparing for Genocide: Community Work in Rwanda," Working Paper Series 2015:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    2. Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 55-67.
    3. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2015. "Preparing for Genocide: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Rwanda," SITE Working Paper Series 31, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 10 Nov 2016.
    4. Cozzi, Guido & Mantovan, Noemi & Sauer, Robert M., 2013. "Does it Pay to Work for Free? Wage Returns and Gender Differences in the Market for Volunteers," Economics Working Paper Series 1330, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    5. Thomas Fujiwara & Kyle C. Meng & Tom Vogl, 2013. "Estimating Habit Formation in Voting," NBER Working Papers 19721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Ruben Durante & Paolo Pinotti & Andrea Tesei, 2013. "Voting Alone? The Political and Cultural Consequences of Commercial TV," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2013-10, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    7. Ruben Durante & Paolo Pinotti & Andrea Tesei, 2014. "No News, Big News. The political consequences of entertainment TV," Working Papers 063, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    8. Koenig, Christoph, 2015. "The Political Fallout of Chernobyl: Evidence from West-German Elections," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1081, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    9. Achyuta Adhvaryu & James Fenske, 2014. "Conflict and the Formation of Political Beliefs in Africa," HiCN Working Papers 164, Households in Conflict Network.

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