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Trygve Haavelmo And The Emergence Of Causal Calculus


  • Pearl, Judea


Haavelmo was the first to recognize the capacity of economic models to guide policies. This paper describes some of the barriers that Haavelmo’s ideas have had (and still have) to overcome and lays out a logical framework that has evolved from Haavelmo’s insight and matured into a coherent and comprehensive account of the relationships between theory, data, and policy questions. The mathematical tools that emerge from this framework now enable investigators to answer complex policy and counterfactual questions using simple routines, some by mere inspection of the model’s structure. Several such problems are illustrated by examples, including misspecification tests, nonparametric identification, mediation analysis, and introspection. Finally, we observe that economists are largely unaware of the benefits that Haavelmo’s ideas bestow upon them and, to close this gap, we identify concrete recent advances in causal analysis that economists can utilize in research and education.

Suggested Citation

  • Pearl, Judea, 2015. "Trygve Haavelmo And The Emergence Of Causal Calculus," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(1), pages 152-179, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:etheor:v:31:y:2015:i:01:p:152-179_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Tapia, Jose, 2015. "Profits encourage investment, investment dampens profits, government spending does not prime the pump — A DAG investigation of business-cycle dynamics," MPRA Paper 64985, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2015.
    2. Arthur Lewbel, 2018. "The Identification Zoo - Meanings of Identification in Econometrics," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 957, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 14 Dec 2019.
    3. repec:ris:apltrx:0340 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. LeRoy, Stephen F., 2019. "Causal Inference," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6pc1x9r6, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    5. repec:wyz:journl:id:539 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Biørn, Erik, 2017. "Identification, Instruments, Omitted Variables, and Rudimentary Models: Fallacies in the ‘Experimental Approach’ to Econometrics," Memorandum 13/2017, Oslo University, Department of Economics.

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