POL222H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Spurious Relationship, Confounding

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19 Jan 2020
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Two primary, potential obstacles when we empirically examine a causal relationship. Credible causal mechanism links y to x. We may eliminate the possibility of reverse causality by a credible theoretical argument. Some empirical research designs may address the possibility of reverse causality. If there is a relationship between x and z, z is a confounding variable. Z has a relationship with the independent variable and dependent. Spurious relationship: example: reconsidering effects of education on political participation. Data: 1965-1973 waves of political socialization study. Dependent variable: index of eight political participatory acts (voting, campaign worker, demonstration): 0=lowest to 8=highest. Conclusion: college education and political participation relationship is spurious. Spurious relationship: the relationship between x and y is gone if z is accounted for. Failure to account for a confounding variable in empirical analysis could result in the misrepresentation of the true relationship between x and y. Beta - true relationship between x and y.

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