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Journal Article

Economics, History, and Causation

Randall Morck and Bernard Yeung
The Business History Review
Vol. 85, No. 1 (SPRING 2011), pp. 39-63
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41301369
Page Count: 25
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Economics, History, and Causation
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Abstract

Economics and history both strive to understand causation: economics by 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: each successful use of an instrument creates an additional latent variable problem for all other uses ofthat instrument. 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.

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