Counterfactuals and Causal Inference

Methods and Principles for Social Research

Counterfactuals and Causal Inference

Did mandatory busing programs in the 1970s increase the school achievement of disadvantaged minority youth? Does obtaining a college degree increase an individual’s labor market earnings? Did the use of a butterfly ballot in some Florida counties in the 2000 presidential election cost Al Gore votes? Simple cause-and-effect questions such as these are the motivation for much empirical work in the social sciences. In this book, the counterfactual model of causality for observational data analysis is presented, and methods for causal effect estimation are demonstrated using examples from sociology, political science, and economics.


"This book is the first representative of a growing surge of interest among social scientists and economists to reclaim their professions from the tyrany of regression analysis and address cause-effect relationships squarely and formally. The book is unique in recognizing the equivalence between the counterfactual and graphical approaches to causal analysis and shows readers how to best utilize the distinct features of each. An indispensible reading for every forward-looking student of quantitative social science." -Judea Pearl University of California, Los Angeles

"...Morgan and Winship have written an important, wide-ranging, careful, and original introduction to the modern literature on causal inference in nonexperimental social research."
Canadian Journal of Sociology