Jay Zagorsky, The Ohio State University – Fireworks

12/12/14 – Boston, Massachusetts
School of Management faculty headshots.
Photo by Dan Watkins for Boston University Photography.

Be careful with your fireworks this year.

Jay Zagorsky, research scientist and economist at The Ohio State University, says more fireworks are shot off each year and injuries are increasing.

Since 1995 I have held the position of Research Scientist at The Ohio State University, where I collect data as part of the National Longitudinal Surveys on income, wealth, and life experiences of thousands of Americans. My personal finance research has been widely quoted in the media and has been highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fox News, Good Morning America, Scientific American and numerous other news outlets.

Besides publishing numerous scholarly articles I wrote the book “Business Information: Finding and Using Data in the Digital Age” for McGraw-Hill/Irwin and “Business Macroeconomics: A Guide for Managers, Traders and Practical People.” More information on the macroeconomics book can be found at http://businessmacroeconomics.com/.

I also teach at Boston University’s School of Management. From 1988 to the present my teaching has spanned a wide range of levels from senior executives taking intensive classes to high school students encountering economic theories for the first time. I have taught giant lectures of over 450 students, classes of fifty, and small seminars with fewer than ten people.



The 4th of July is a day of parades, BBQ and of course fireworks.  The first fireworks display commemorating Independence Day happened in 1777 in Philadelphia, just one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed.  While watching the explosions, here are five facts to consider.

First, use of fireworks is growing.  We shoot off roughly 10 times more fireworks than we did in 1976, the bicentennial year.  Today, people in the US are shooting off almost one pound of fireworks per adult, per year. 

Second, a key reason for the increase is the steady reduction in state laws. Today only two states, Massachusetts and Delaware completely prohibit individuals from owning and using fireworks.

Third, because states now permit individuals to purchase fireworks there has been a large shift from professional to amateur use.  Back in 2000, roughly one-third of all fireworks shot into the sky were done for professional displays.  Last year professional displays comprised less than ten percent.

Fourth, the vast majority of the fireworks shot off in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, mainly in China.  The import invoices show after adjusting for inflation fireworks prices are cheaper today than twenty-five years ago.  Pound-for-pound fireworks cost less than half the price of hot dogs!

Fifth, as states have relaxed restrictions, injury rates have increased.  Compared to five years ago about one-third more people will be hurt and go to the emergency room.  So if you are shooting them off, use some common sense, especially near children.

So, whether you are lighting fireworks, watching them, or just hiding from the noise, I wish all of you a “Happy Independence Day.”

No Responses