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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.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp12-034.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-034
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  1. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2006. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," NBER Working Papers 12169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Clingingsmith, David & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Kremer, Michael R., 2009. "Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering," Scholarly Articles 3659699, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Are There Civic Returns to Education?," NBER Working Papers 9588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," DELTA Working Papers 97-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  12. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: values and incentives," Working Papers 328, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Ashenfelter, Orley C & Kelley, Stanley, Jr, 1975. "Determinants of Participation in Presidential Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 695-733, December.
  14. Meredith, Marc, 2009. "Persistence in Political Participation," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 4(3), pages 187-209, October.
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