Causal Inference in Historical Institutional Analysis: A Specification of Periodization Strategies

Author(s): Evan Lieberman 

Status/Format: Published

Date: 2001

Publication Type: Journal Article

Publisher: Comparative Political Studies

Volume and Issue: 24(9)

Page Numbers: 1011 - 1035


Although emerging streams of historical institutional (HI) analysis have generated substantial insights in the field of comparative politics, this scholarship has lacked a self-conscious approach to methodology. This article specifies the comparative historical methods that many HI scholars have implicitly used for estimating the causal effect of political institutions on key policy and other political outcomes. It demonstrates how various periodization strategies are deployed to sort out the influence of a host of hypothesized and rival explanatory factors. In addition to explicating these methods, the article critically examines recent works of HI scholarship, highlighting the analytical leverage generated through studies that might ordinarily seem to suffer from the problem of small samples. More explicit deployment of these methods would both improve the quality of HI analysis and make its findings more transparent for further evaluation and emulation.