NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Economics, History, and Causation

Randall Morck, Bernard Yeung

NBER Working Paper No. 16678
Issued in January 2011
NBER Program(s):   CF

Economics and history both strive to understand causation: economics using instrumental variables econometrics and history by weighing the plausibility of alternative narratives. Instrumental variables can lose value with repeated use because of an econometric tragedy of the commons bias: each successful use of an instrument potentially creates an additional latent variable bias problem for all other uses of that instrument – past and future. Economists should therefore consider historians’ approach to inferring causality from detailed context, the plausibility of alternative narratives, external consistency, and recognition that free will makes human decisions intrinsically exogenous.

download in pdf format
   (657 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (657 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16678

Published: Morck, Randall & Bernard Yeung. 2011. Economics, History, and Causation. Business History Review 85 : pp 39-63

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Arrow, Dasgupta, Goulder, Mumford, and Oleson w16599 Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth
Acemoglu, Golosov, Tsyvinski, and Yared w16682 A Dynamic Theory of Resource Wars
Heckman w13934 Econometric Causality
Morck w16870 Finance and Governance in Developing Economies
Ireland w16681 Stochastic Growth in the United States and Euro Area
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us