The Rigor of Case-Based Causal Analysis

Busting Myths through a Demonstration

This paper demonstrates through a real-world example how case-based analysis can be used for conducting causal analysis in evaluations and busts myths associated with it.

Abstract image created by Luísa Pinheiro Ulhoa Tenorio

This resource discusses the use of case-based designs in conducting causal analysis and busts two myths regarding their use in the context of evaluation: firstly, that case studies cannot be used for causal analysis, and secondly, that the conclusions drawn from case studies cannot be generalized beyond the specific cases. The paper uses the real-life example of an evaluation of the World Bank’s support to carbon finance through the development of Emission Reduction Purchase Agreements between 1999 and 2012.

This resource comprises three sections: The first section lays out the methodology used in the causal analysis conducted in the evaluation, emphasizing principles in the design of the analysis that address causal inference and generalizability. The second section shows how the evaluation conducted within-case and cross-case causal analyses. The third section shows how the findings can be illustrated and integrated into other analyses. The paper concludes with a discussion of the applicability of case-based approaches, their relative strengths, and their limitations.