Is unit homogeneity a **sufficient** condition (assumption) for causal inference from observational data?

Re-reading King, Keohane and Verba’s bible on research design [lovingly known to all exposed as KKV] I think they regard unit homogeneity and conditional independence as** alternative** assumptions for causal inference. For example: “we provide an overview here of what is required in terms of the two **possible** assumptions that enable us to get around the fundamental problem [of causal inference]” (p.91, emphasis mine). However, I don’t see how unit homogeneity on its own can rule out endogeneity (establish the direction of causality). In my understanding, endogeneity is automatically ruled out with conditional independence, but not with unit homogeneity (“*Two units are homogeneous when the expected values of the dependent variables from each unit are the same when our explanatory variables takes on a particular value*” [p.91]).

Going back to Holland’s seminal article which provides the basis of KKV’s approach, we can confirm that unit homogeneity is listed as a **sufficient** condition for inference (p.948). But Holland divides variables into **pre-exposure** and **post-exposure** before he even gets to discuss any of the additional assumptions, so reverse causality is ruled out altogether. Hence, in Holland’s context unit homogeneity can indeed be regarded as sufficient, but in my opinion in KKV’s context unit homogeneity needs to be coupled with some condition (temporal precedence for example) to ascertain the causal direction when making inferences from data.

The point is minor but can create confusion when presenting unit homogeneity and conditional independence side by side as alternative assumptions for inference.

### Like this:

Like Loading...

*Related*

Hi there, just became alert to your blog through

Google, and found that it is really informative. I’m

gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.

Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!