A Quantitative Tour of the Social Sciences

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Social scientists become experts in their own disciplines but aren't always familiar with what is going on in neighboring fields. To foster a deeper understanding of the interconnection of the social sciences, economists should know where historical data come from, sociologists should know how to think like economists, political scientists would benefit from understanding how models are tested in psychology, historians should learn how political processes are studied, psychologists should understand sociological theories, and so forth.

This overview by prominent social scientists gives an accessible, nontechnical sense of how quantitative research is done in different areas. Readers will find out about models and ways of thinking in economics, history, sociology, political science, and psychology, which in turn they can bring back to their own work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A marvelous sampler of quantitative approaches to social science across a range of disciplines. The authors forsake the dry and mechanical overviews that typify introductory texts in favor of focused forays into specific problems, deemed representative of their discipline's theoretical and empirical output. These engrossing stories of research make the volume a lively and informative read."
John Gerring, author of Social Science Methodology and Case Study Research: Principles and Practices

"Andrew Gelman and Jeronimo Cortina have put together a unique and important volume covering empirical approaches across the dominant social sciences. Where else would one get detailed advice about specifying, fitting and analyzing quantitative models specifically tailored to five fields written by leaders in those fields? Rather than looking for the lowest-common-factor that relates these areas, the enclosed essays highlight the specialty and diversity of academic social sciences while remaining accessible to students regardless of their individual background. Bracketed by two theoretical discussions, this work provides a stunningly creative approach to broad social science education."
Jeff Gill, Director of the Center for Applied Statistics, Washington University

"A Quantitative Tour of the Social Sciences provides an impressive overview of the uses of statistics throughout the social sciences, from psychology to economics, from sociology to political science. The collection of essays is highly accessible and provides excellent examples of statistical methods in the study of human behavior and society."
Steve Ansolabehere, Professor of Government, Harvard University

"Despite the commonalities in the questions they seek to answer, researchers in different social sciences tend to use very different methods, often embarrassingly ignorant of what their colleagues in other fields are doing. Based partly on a lecture course at Columbia University designed to remedy this, the Gelman and Cortina collection provides a lucid and readable introduction to the methodological approaches in the different social sciences. Reading this will help empirical researchers in all social sciences broaden their understanding of quantitative methods, and help them choose their methods on the merits, rather that on the basis of what is fashionable in their own field."
Guido W. Imbens, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

"... the book is well written and engaging, and most of us will find parts of great interest. Moreover, anyone looking for some examples or readings to bring into a course on probability and statistics which is populated by social science students will find some good ones in this volume."
Darren Glass, MAA Reviews

"Highly recommended."
M. Oromaner, CHOICE

"Andrew Gelman and Jeronimo Cortina offer to the social sciences an excellent volume that will open up new lines of understanding between sociologists, political scientists, economists, psychologists, and historians. Overall, the approach to social science presented in the volume is appealing and, from my perspective, consistent with the best traditions of sociological analysis."
Stephen L. Morgan, Contemporary Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521680035
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/6/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Gelman is a Professor of Statistics and Political Science at Columbia University. He received the Presidents' Award in 2003, which is awarded each year to the best statistician under forty. He has written about 200 research articles on statistical methods, teaching, and applications, and his books include Bayesian Data Analysis, Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks, Applied Regression and Multilevel Models, and, most recently, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. He is the founding director of the Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences Program, an interdisciplinary program at Columbia University that bridges history, economics, sociology, political science, psychology, and statistics.

Jeronimo Cortina is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston, where he was also the Resident Scholar at the Center for Mexican American Studies for 2007–8. He previously collaborated with the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute on its survey designs, implementation, and analysis and is currently collaborating with UNICEF on the implementation of surveys, after completing his MPA and PhD at Columbia University.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Learning to Think Like a Social Scientist ix

About the Contributors xiii

Part I Models And Methods In The Social Sciences Andrew Gelman

1 Introduction and Overview 3

2 What's in a Number? Definitions of Fairness and Political Representation 11

3 The Allure and Limitations of Mathematical Modeling: Game Theory and Trench Warfare 20

Part II History Herbert S. Klein Charles Stockley

4 Historical Background of Quantitative Social Science 35

5 Sources of Historical Data 52

6 Historical Perspectives on International Exchange Rates 59

7 Historical Data and Demography in Europe and the Americas 83

Part III Economics Richard Clarida Marta Noguer

8 Learning from Economic Data 99

9 Econometric Forecasting and the Flow of Information 111

10 Two Studies of Interest Rates and Monetary Policy 134

Part IV Sociology Seymour Spilerman Emanuele Gerratana

11 Models and Theories in Sociology 155

12 Explanations of the Racial Disturbances of the 1960s 164

13 The Time Series of Lynchings in the American South 176

14 Attainment Processes in a Large Organization 191

Part V Political Science Charles Cameron

15 What Is Political Science? 207

16 The Politics of Supreme Court Nominations: The Critical Role of the Media Environment 223

17 Modeling Strategy in Congressional Hearings 242

Part VI Psychology E. Tory Higgins Elke Weber Heidi Grant

18 Formulating and Testing Theories in Psychology 271

19 Some Theories in Cognitive and Social Psychology 282

20 Signal Detection Theory and Models for Trade-Offs in Decision Making 291

Part VII To Treat or Not To Treat: Causal Inference in The Social Sciences Jeronimo Cortina

21 ThePotential-Outcomes Model of Causation 303

22 Some Statistical Tools for Causal Inference with Observational Data 309

23 Migration and Solidarity 319

References 327

Index 339

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