Alex P. Keaton and the Fourth of July

I have an early memory — probably from about age four or five — of Fourth of July fireworks.  We had gone to see the big fireworks show and I was in bed trying to go to sleep.  Back then, however, firecrackers and bottle rockets were completely legal and larger explosives were not uncommon.  To a young child, however, the noise was terrifying — I knew for sure that one of those fireworks I was hearing was going to land on our roof and burn the house down with all of us in it.  And perhaps that’s why I’m an ultra-liberal these days.  Yes, before you head out to that Fourth of July parade or fire up the Independence Day barbecue, you might want to take a look at what a new study has to say about the lasting effects of such festivities.

The study
[PDF], conducted by professors at Harvard University and Bocconi University in Italy, has found a correlation between childhood attendance at Fourth of July celebrations and political views in adulthood.  By using the absence or presence of rain on the Fourth as an indicator of likely participation, the researchers found that “the likelihood that an adult at age 40 identifies as a Republican increases by 0.76 percentage points for each rain-free Fourth of July during childhood, where childhood is defined as the ages of 3-18.”  Furthermore, the researchers found the effects to be permanent and most significant at ages 7 to 10, the age range, I suspect, when parents are most likely to take kids to such events.

The study also found that the effects of the Fourth are one-way — Democrats received no similar boost “indicating that Fourth of July shifts preferences to the right rather than increasing political polarization.”  So if you don’t want to end up with an Alex P. Keaton on your hands, perhaps it’s best to stay home and avoid anything patriotic or, at the very least, make sure your kids are as terrified as I was.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply