January 26, 2018

Causal Claims, continued

Deterministic claims

So far…

Claims about what will happen with certainty under particular causal conditions.


  • Necessary conditions
  • Sufficient conditions
  • Conjunctural causality
  • Multiple causality
  • Conjunctural and multiple causality

Deterministic claims

Key implication:

  • Effect cannot happen when cause(s) is(are) absent
  • Effect must happen when cause(s) are present

Do we always want to make these claims?

  • Democracy and economic development

An example: 1966

An example: 1986

An example: 2006

An example: 2016

Trends in democracy

Global economic growth

Democracy causes growth?

Seems plausible


Growth in democracies/vs non democracies


What can we see?


  • lots of rich democracies
  • lots of poor autocracies


  • Democracies with low GDP per capita
  • Autocracies that are wealthy


Looks positive to me!

Another example:

Voter turn out:

  • Low in many countries
  • Low in many local, off-year elections.

How can you get people to vote?


Why shaming?

Inspire sense of duty;

Want to be seen as doing the right thing

Does it work?

Does it work?


not everyone voted

In these two examples

1. Democracy and economic growth:

  • Democracy is a necessary condition for economic growth

  • Democracy is a sufficient condition for economic growth

  • Democracy makes economic growth more likely?

2. Shaming and voter turnout

  • Shaming eligible voters is a necessary condition for turnout

  • Shaming eligible voters is a sufficient condition for turnout

  • Shaming eligible voters makes turnout more likely?

In contrast to deterministic claims:

Probabilistic causal claims:

Claim that the presence of a cause makes an effect more (or less) likely

  • Effect can happen with cause is absent
  • Effect may not happen when cause is present


Legacies of imperialism

Long term effects of colonizing

What kind of imperialism?

  • Resource extraction \(\xrightarrow{weak-property-rights}\) Poor growth
  • Settlement \(\xrightarrow{property-protected}\) Good growth

Settler mortality and growth