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European Political Science

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 275–290 | Cite as

What did I leave out? Omitted variables in regression and qualitative comparative analysis

  • Claudio M. RadaelliEmail author
  • Claudius WagemannEmail author
Research

Abstract

Social scientists often face a fundamental problem: Did I leave something causally important out of my explanation? How do I diagnose this? Where do I look for solutions to this problem? We build bridges between regression models and qualitative comparative analysis by comparing diagnostics and solutions to the problem of omitted variables and conditions. We then discuss various approaches and tackle the theoretical issues around causality which must be addressed before attending to technical fixes. In the conclusions, we reflect on the bridges built between the two traditions and draw more general lessons about the logic of social science research.

Keywords

Causality Econometrics Qualitative comparative analysis Research design Regression analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the reviewers and the EPS co-editor Daniel Stockemer for their comments and suggestions. We also thank Fabrizio Gilardi, Jonathan C. Kamkhaji, Gabriel Katz and the participants to the ‘cake for comments’ seminar series 2016–2017 at the University of Exeter. We are grateful to Francesca Farmer for checking style and grammar. Research for this project was funded by the ERC project 694632 Protego, Procedural Tools for Effective Governance, and by the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics, Centre for European GovernanceUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  2. 2.Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social SciencesGoethe UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany

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