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Functions and mechanisms in structural-modelling explanations


  • WUNSCH, Guillaume

    (Université catholique de Louvain, Demography, Belgium)

  • MOUCHART, Michel

    () (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE & ISBA, Belgium)

  • RUSSO, Federica

    (Center Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)


One way the social scientists explain phenomena is by building structural models. These models are explanatory insofar as they manage to perform a recursive decomposition on an initial multivariate probability distribution, which can be interpreted as a mechanism. The social scientists should include the variables in the model on the basis of their function in the mechanism. This paper examines the notion of ‘function’ within structural modelling. We argue that ‘functions’ ought to be understood as the theoretical underpinnings of the causes, namely as the role that causes play in the functioning of the mechanism.

Suggested Citation

  • WUNSCH, Guillaume & MOUCHART, Michel & RUSSO, Federica, 2012. "Functions and mechanisms in structural-modelling explanations," CORE Discussion Papers 2012056, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2012056

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fleurbaey,Marc & Maniquet,François, 2011. "A Theory of Fairness and Social Welfare," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521715348, March.
    2. David De La Croix & Fabio Mariani, 2015. "From Polygyny to Serial Monogamy: A Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 565-607.
    3. Gaigné, Carl & Riou, Stéphane & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2012. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 123-136.
    4. Michel Mouchart & Federica Russo & Guillaume Wunsch, 2010. "Inferrig Causal Relations by Modelling Structure," Statistica, Department of Statistics, University of Bologna, vol. 70(4), pages 411-432.
    5. Berardino Cesi & Dimitri Paolini, 2014. "Peer Group and Distance: When Widening University Participation is Better," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82, pages 110-132, December.
    6. Gaigné, Carl & Riou, Stéphane & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2012. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 123-136.
    7. Duranton, Gilles & Martin, Philippe & Mayer, Thierry & Mayneris, Florian, 2010. "The Economics of Clusters: Lessons from the French Experience," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199592203.
    8. Michel Mouchart & Marie Vandresse, 2007. "Bargaining powers and market segmentation in freight transport," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 1295-1313.
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