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Statistical Models and Causal Inference by Jasjeet S. Sekhon, David Collier, David A. Freedman

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3Statistical Models and Shoe Leather

        ABSTRACT. Regression models have been used in the social sciences at least since 1899, when Yule published a paper on the causes of pauperism. Regression models are now used to make causal arguments in a wide variety of applications, and it is perhaps time to evaluate the results. No definitive answers can be given, but this chapter takes a rather negative view. Snow’s work on cholera is presented as a success story for scientific reasoning based on nonexperimental data. Failure stories are also discussed, and comparisons may provide some insight. In particular, this chapter suggests that statistical technique can seldom be an adequate substitute for good design, relevant data, and testing predictions ...

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