Correlation or causation?
Because economics deals with real-world situations, it is difficult to hold the kind of experiment necessary to prove absolute causation. Economic tools can easily uncover correlations, which show relationships between two factors. Remember, though, that no matter how concrete they may seem, these correlations do not prove causation. Confusing causation with correlation can lead to thoughtless claims being made. Two factors might have a reverse relationship, or even a third variable that is causing both of the two related factors.
In Chapter 5 of Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner argue that research refutes the conventional wisdom held by most parents that what a parent does makes a difference in whether a child succeeds. What is the basis for their argument? What might be an explanation for their strange conclusion?
When looking at statistical data over a period of time, what does “correlation” mean? How is it different from “causation?” Explain two examples from your experience where you have observed “correlation” being confused with “causation.” The first example must be from before the coronavirus epidemic; the second example must be from during the coronavirus epidemic.
Audience: Even though you are writing this essay for a class, you should write it so that readers outside our class will be able to understand your essay’s purpose and your position. Pretend that if people found a copy of your essay in a cafe, they would understand clearly the context of the essay, your purpose, and the evidence you provide.
Successful essays will…
Reference and respond to Levitt and Dubner’s definition of causation and correlation.
Allude to the importance of conventional wisdom in identify/misidentifying causation.
Summarize the authors’ conclusion on the influence of parents on their children’s success.
Include an example from your own experience or observation that confused correlation with causation from before the current health crisis.
Include an example from your own experience or observation that has confused correlation with causation from during the current health crisis.