Causal Inference in Accounting Research
64 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2016 Last revised: 29 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 2016
This paper examines the approaches accounting researchers use to draw causal inferences using observational (or non-experimental) data. The vast majority of accounting research papers draw causal inferences notwithstanding the well-known difficulties in doing so. While some recent papers seek to use quasi-experimental methods to improve causal inferences, these methods also make strong assumptions that are not always fully appreciated. We believe that accounting research would benefit from: more in-depth descriptive research, including a greater focus on the study of causal mechanisms (or causal pathways); increased emphasis on structural modeling of the phenomena of interest. We argue these changes offer a practical path forward for rigorous accounting research.
Keywords: accounting research, causal inferences, study of causal mechanisms, study of causal pathways, econometrics
JEL Classification: C20, C30, M20, M40
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