Take the 2-minute tour ×
Cross Validated is a question and answer site for people interested in statistics, machine learning, data analysis, data mining, and data visualization. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What are good books that introduce causal analysis? I'm thinking of an introduction that both explains the principles of causal analysis and shows how different statistical methods could be used to apply these principles.

share|improve this question
You might try this article by Krider mktsci.journal.informs.org/content/24/4/635.abstract which has a simple graphical technique. Along the way, it has a fairly simple explanation of some causal techniques. I'm making this just a comment because this isn't exactly what you asked for. –  zbicyclist Dec 16 '12 at 7:38
Judea Pearl. Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. Cambridge Univ.Press, 2000. (ISBN 0521773628) –  Deer Hunter Dec 16 '12 at 10:18
Chen & Pearl have a report on Regression and Causation: A Critical Examination Econometrics Textbooks –  Jack Tanner Dec 17 '12 at 17:35
add comment

2 Answers

Try Morgan and Winship (2007) for a social science take or Hernan and Robins (forthcoming) for an epidemiological take. Although still in progress, this looks like it's going to be very good.

Morgan and Winship is particularly good on what must be assumed for causal interpretations of regression-type models.

Pearl (2000) is in no sense introductory, although ultimately a very good read. You may find some of his website and specific articles useful, particularly on interpreting structural equation models. They are mostly available as technical reports.

share|improve this answer
I think M&W is actually 2007. –  Dimitriy V. Masterov Dec 18 '12 at 21:54
Thanks @DimitriyV.Masterov Not sure how that date leaked in after I spent the last many w eeks teaching out of it! –  conjugateprior Dec 19 '12 at 10:00
add comment

I have very high expectations for Austin Nichols' forthcoming book Causal Inference: Measuring the Effect of x on y. The expected publication date is 2013. In the mean time, his handout and paper provide a nice overview of panel methods, instrumental variables, propensity score matching/reweighting, and regression discontinuity. The comparisons between all these estimators (and RCTs) are especially useful, as well as the Stata mini-tutorials (that can be skipped if you're not a Stata user). Curated references are provided if you want to dig deeper. Unfortunately, there's not very much on structural equations here, though that is also true of the Morgan and Winship book. Their ARS paper is a shorter, though somewhat dated, overview.

I found Pearl to be an interesting, but difficult, introduction to this material. If it was my first exposure to these ideas, I don't know if I would have walked away after reading it knowing how to apply any of the methods very well.

Finally, here are video presentations and slides by economist James Heckman and Pearl from the 2012 Causal Inference Symposium at University of Michigan. Lots of stuff on structural models here.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.