Opiates for the Matches: Matching Methods for Causal Inference
Posted: 4 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 2009
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: 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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