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Empirical versus Theoretical Claims about Extreme Counterfactuals: A Response

  • Gary King (a1) and Langche Zeng (a2)

Abstract

In response to the data-based measures of model dependence proposed in King and Zeng (2006), Sambanis and Michaelides (2008) propose alternative measures that rely upon assumptions untestable in observational data. If these assumptions are correct, then their measures are appropriate and ours, based solely on the empirical data, may be too conservative. If instead, and as is usually the case, the researcher is not certain of the precise functional form of the data generating process, the distribution from which the data are drawn, and the applicability of these modeling assumptions to new counterfactuals, then the data-based measures proposed in King and Zeng (2006) are much preferred. After all, the point of model dependence checks is to verify empirically, rather than to stipulate by assumption, the effects of modeling assumptions on counterfactual inferences.

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Corresponding author

e-mail: king@harvard.edu (corresponding author)

Footnotes

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Author's note: Easy-to-use software to implement the methods discussed here, called “WhatIf: Software for Evaluating Counterfactuals,” is available at http://gking.harvard.edu/whatif. All information necessary to replicate the analyses herein can be found in King and Zeng (2008). Conflict of interest statement. None declared.

Footnotes

References

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Ho, Daniel, Imai, Kosuke, King, Gary, and Stuart, Elizabeth. 2007. Matching as nonparametric preprocessing for reducing model dependence in parametric causal inference. Political Analysis 15: 199236. http://gking.harvard.edu/files/abs/matchp-abs.shtml.
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King, Gary, and Zeng, Langche. 2007. When can history be our guide? The pitfalls of counterfactual inference.
International Studies Quarterly 51: 183210. http://gking.harvard.edu/files/abs/counterf-abs.shtml.
King, Gary, and Zeng, Langche. 2008. Replication data for: empirical vs. theoretical claims about extreme counterfactuals: a response. hdl:1902.1/11903, Murray Research Archive [Distributor].
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Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
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