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Observing the Counterfactual? The Search for Political Experiments in Nature

  • Gregory Robinson (a1), John E. McNulty (a2) and Jonathan S. Krasno (a3)
Abstract

A search of recent political science literature and conference presentations shows substantial fascination with the concept of the natural experiment. However, there seems to be a wide array of definitions and applications employed in research that purports to analyze natural experiments. In this introductory essay to the special issue, we attempt to define natural experiments and discuss related issues of research design. In addition, we briefly explore the basic methodological issues around the appropriate analysis of natural experiments and give an overview of different techniques. The overarching theme of this essay and of this issue is to encourage applied researchers to look for natural experiments in their own work and to think more systematically about research design.

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e-mail: grobinso@binghamton.edu (corresponding author)
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Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
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