Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Opiates for the Matches

A working paper (2008) by Jasjeet S. Sekhon from the Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley: "Opiates for the Matches - Matching Methods for Causal Inference".


In recent years there has been a burst of innovative work on methods for estimating causal effects using observational data. Much of this work has extended and brought a renewed focus on old approaches such as matching, which is the focus of this review. The new developments highlight an old tension in the social sciences between a focus on research design versus a focus on quantitative models. This realization along with the renewed interest in field experiments has marked the return of foundational questions as opposed to a fascination with the latest estimator. I use studies of get-out-the-vote interventions to exemplify this development. Without an experiment, natural experiment, a discontinuity, or some other strong design, no amount of econometric or statistical modeling can make the move from correlation to causation persuasive.

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