What are the Criteria for Inferring Causality?

According to the philosopher John Stuart Mill:

  1. The cause (independent variable) must precede the effect (dependent variable) in time.
  2. The two variables are empirically correlated with one another.
  3. The observed empirical correlation between the two variables cannot be due to the influence of a third variable that causes the two under consideration.

Correlation does not prove causation!!

Useful resources:




Shadish, W., Cook, T. & Campbell, D (2002). Experimental & Quasi- Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.