UNICEF webinar: Overview: strategies for causal inference

What is causal attribution? Do you need a counterfactual to determine if something has caused a change?

Professor Patricia Rogers provides an overview of how to determine causal attribution in impact evaluations.

She covers three broad strategies for causal attribution:

  1. Estimating the counterfactual;
  2. Checking the consistency of evidence for the causal relationships made explicit in the theory of change; and
  3. Ruling out alternative explanations through a logical, evidence-based process.



Can you tell us a bit more about natural experiments? Do they typically include a before-after comparison or are there cases where randomization is used?

Is it possible to do a meta-evaluation of evaluations which used different strategies for causal attribution? 

Do you have some example of indicators for consistency between e.g. counterfactual and case study. How can this modus operandies be analyzed?


The findings, interpretations and opinions expressed in the webinars are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The presenters are independent impact evaluation experts who were commissioned by UNICEF to prepare the webinars and use their own knowledge and judgement on key issues and to provide advice. The questions and comments reflected in the Q & A materials are based on those submitted by UNICEF staff as part of this capacity-building initiative. They do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of UNICEF.

The webinars were commissioned by UNICEF and UNICEF is entitled to all intellectual property and other proprietary rights which bear a direct relation to the contract under which this work was produced. The materials on this page are subject to a Creative Commons license CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial) and may be used and reproduced in line with the conditions of this licence.


Rogers, P. (2015, February). Overview: Strategies for Causal Inference. Impact evaluation webinars for UNICEF [Webinar]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ0B2-sD5So

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