Identification with Models and Exogenous Data Variation
Forthcoming, Foundations and Trends in Accounting
12 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2016 Last revised: 11 Oct 2016
Date Written: July 1, 2016
We distinguish between identification and establishing causality. Identification means forming a unique mapping from features of data to quantities that are of interest to economists. Establishing causality is synonymous with finding sources of exogenous variation. These two issues are often confused. However, exogenous variation is only sometimes necessary and never sufficient to identify economically interesting parameters. Instead, even for causal questions identification must rest on an underlying economic model. We illustrate these points by examining identification in two recent papers: one causal study relying on an entirely verbal model and one non-causal study relying on a formal mathematical model.
Keywords: Identification, Causality, Natural Experiments, Structural Estimation
JEL Classification: G30,C10,M40
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