This collection of six essays makes novel methodological contributions to causal inference, time-series cross-sectional forecasting, and supervised text analysis. The first three essays start from the premise that while randomized experiments are the gold standard for causal claims, randomization is not feasible or ethical for many questions in the social sciences. Researchers have thus devised methods that approximate experiments using nonexperimental control units to estimate counterfactuals. However, control units may be costly to obtain, incomparable to the treated units, or completely unavailable when all units are treated. We challenge the commonplace intuition that control units are necessary for causal inference. We propose conditions under which one can use post-treatment variables to estimate causal effects. At its core, we show when one can obtain identification of causal effects by comparing treated units to other treated units, without recourse to control units. The next two essays demonstrate that the U.S. Social Security Administration's (SSA) forecasting errors were approximately unbiased until about 2000, but then began to grow quickly, with increasingly overconfident uncertainty intervals. Moreover, the errors all turn out to be in the same potentially dangerous direction, each making the Social Security Trust Funds look healthier than they actually are. We also discover the cause of these findings with evidence from a large number of interviews we conducted with participants at every level of the forecasting and policy processes. Finally, the last essay develops a new dataset for studying the influence of business on public policy decisions across the American states. Compiling and digitizing nearly 1,000 leaked legislative proposals made by a leading business lobbying group in the states, along with digitized versions of all state legislation introduced or enacted between 1995 and 2013, we use a two-stage supervised classifier to categorize state bills as either sharing the same underlying concepts or specific language as business-drafted model bills. We find these business-backed bills were more likely to be introduced and enacted by legislatures lacking policy resources, such as those without full-time members and with few staffers. ; Government
This volume looks forward and explores the 'interpretive turn' and its implications for the craft of political science, especially public administration, and draws together articles from 2005 onwards on the theme of 'the interpretive turn' in political science.