Causal Analysis

Reflections on Heckman and Pinto’s “Causal Analysis After Haavelmo”

Novemver, 2013


This paper reflects on a recent article by Heckman and Pinto (2013) in which they discuss a formal system, called do-calculus, that operationalizes Haavelmo’s conception of policy intervention. They replace the do-operator with an equivalent operator called “fix,” highlight the capabilities of “fix,” discover limitations in “do,” and inform readers that those limitations disappear in “the Haavelmo approach.” I examine the logic of HP’s paper, its factual basis, and its impact on econometric research and education.