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The workshop "Causality in the Social Sciences II" will take place in October 8 and 9, 2020 at the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) in Hanover. The conference is organised by Sebastian Lang and Ulrike Schwabe within the Research Cluster Empirical Methods of Higher Education Research and Science Studies. The workshop is financially supported by the German Academy of Sociology and the DZHW.

This website provides all information about the workshop and is updated regularly.

Call for Papers

Last year's Nobel Prize in economics was given to a research group using randomized controlled trials (RCT) to analyse worldwide poverty (c.f. Duflo 2011). Random assignment to treatment and non-treatment conditions in experimental studies is one way to detect underlying causal mechanisms. Nonetheless, the question of causality has become important in other disciplines like social and political sciences, too. Although, the research design in observational data is not ex ante perfect to handle (self-)selection into treatment, various ex-post estimation strategies are able to ensure causal interpretation at least to a certain extent.

We kindly invite young researchers and distinguished scholars from the fields of social and political sciences, economics, philosophy, medical and health sciences and philosophy to contribute to our workshop titled "Causality in the Social Sciences II". This subsequent workshop aims to discuss and reflect up-to-date developments in research and open questions on causality from an interdisciplinary perspective and focusses on three purposes:

  • First, it deepens the understanding of causality in the social sciences on a theoretical-analytical level.
  • Second, it highlights research designs and statistical methods to support causal interpretation on an applied empirical level. This implies experimental research designs (field and laboratory experiments) as well as estimation strategies for observational data such as matching, instrumental variables, selection correction models, panel regression, regression discontinuity design, and difference-in-differences approaches, and the critical reflection of strengths and pitfalls.
  • Third, it provides a place to discuss results of replication studies directly confronting naïve and more sophisticated estimation strategies: Do different methods provide different results?

Hence, core questions to be addressed are related to the general relation between description and explanation, the counterfactual approach itself, adequate estimation strategies for causal inference, advantages and disadvantages of experimental and observational data. But, the workshop is also open to other aspects related to causality and causal inference.

This two-day workshop aims to provide a broad overview on the one hand and to generate practical suggestions on how far the concepts of causality can be tackled in the social sciences on the other hand. The following three speakers will provide keynotes on:

  • Prof. Dr. Felix Elwert (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA): "Mehr Experimente wagen: Causal Inference for Higher Education Research"
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Lechner (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland): "Priority to unemployed immigrants? A causal machine learning evaluation of training in Belgium"
  • Prof. Dr. Jan Marcus (University Hamburg, Germany): "Federalism and causal inference: Chances and challenges of difference-in-differences"

Besides these general talks, young scholars (PhD students and PostDocs) have the opportunity to present and reflect on how far aspects of causality are important for their research (15-20 minutes presentations and 10-15 minutes discussion). The presentations will be discussed by the invited keynote speakers as well as all the other workshop participants.

Places are limited up to 30 young scholars (PhD students and PostDocs) in order to ensure intensive exchange and feedback on ongoing work. This workshop is supported by the German "Academy of Sociology" and the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) Hanover. Workshop participation is free of charge. However, travel, accommodation and workshop dinner expenses will not be covered. Though, lunches will be provided. Priority in admission will be given to members of the German "Academy of Sociology".

Applications have to be sent by e-mail ( ) before May, 31st 2020, and should include

  • a) an abstract of the paper that will be presented (up to 500 words)
  • b) a brief CV (one page).

We look forward to your contribution and welcoming you at the DZHW in Hannover,
Ulrike Schwabe, Sebastian Lang, and Monika Jungbauer-Gans

You can find the Call for Papers as PDF here.


The programme will be published here approx. in mid-July.



The conference will take place in Room LL500 of the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW).

Exact address of the conference venue:
Lange Laube 12
30159 Hanover





Hotel rooms can be found e.g. here:,,
Alternative accomodation possibilities offer e.g. the following service providers: Airbnb, FeWo-direkt