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Case Selection and Causal Inference in Qualitative Research

49 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2009 Last revised: 18 Apr 2012

Thomas Pluemper

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Socioeconomics; University of Essex - Department of Government

Vera E. Troeger

University of Essex - Department of Government

Eric Neumayer

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: April 27, 2010

Abstract

The validity of causal inferences in qualitative research depends on the selection of cases. We contribute to current debates on qualitative research designs by using Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate the performance of different case selection techniques or algorithms. We show that causal inference from qualitative research becomes more reliable when researchers select cases from a larger sample, maximize the variation in the variable of interest, simultaneously minimize variation of the confounding factors, and ignore all information on the dependent variable. We also demonstrate that causal inferences from qualitative research become much less reliable when the variable of interest is strongly correlated with confounding factors, when the effect of the variable of interest becomes small relative to the effect of the confounding factors, and when researchers analyze dichotomous dependent variables.

Suggested Citation

Pluemper, Thomas and Troeger, Vera E. and Neumayer, Eric, Case Selection and Causal Inference in Qualitative Research (April 27, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1439868 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1439868

Thomas Plümper (Contact Author)

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Socioeconomics ( email )

Vienna
Austria

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.polsci.org/pluemper

Vera Troeger

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Eric Neumayer

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
WC2A 2AE London
United Kingdom
+44 207 955 7598 (Phone)
+44 207 955 7412 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/neumayer

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