Paul Allison, PhD, M.S., A.B.
Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
The main goal of my research is to improve statistical methods for making causal inferences using non-experimental data.
Although randomized experiments are the best methods for demonstrating causal relationships, they are usually not ethical or practical for answering the kinds of questions that most social scientists ask. So we have to settle for “second best” methods that have lots of potential pitfalls. I have been studying a collection of methods that enable us to get much closer to an experimental design. Known as “fixed effects methods”, these statistical techniques enable one to control for all stable characteristics of persons, regardless of whether we can measure those characteristics. They accomplish this by using each person as his or her own control. In some versions, these methods can also answer questions about the direction of causality: does X cause Y or does Y cause X? My other major research interest is statistical methods for handling missing data. Two new methods, multiple imputation and maximum likelihood, have been shown to be far superior to more traditional missing-data methods. Nevertheless, they are still not widely used by social scientists. I hope to change that by making these methods easier to use and better understood.
- Lazarsfeld Award for Distinguished Contributions to Sociological Methodology
- Fellow of the American Statistical Association
- Wiebe, Douglas J., Therese S. Richmond, Jed Poster, Wenshang Guo, Paul D. Allison, Charles Branas (2014) “Adolescents’ fears of violence in transit environments during dailyactivities.” Security Journal 27: 226-241
- Cattani, Gino, Simone Ferriani, and Paul D. Allison (2014) “Insiders, outsiders and the strugglefor consecration in cultural fields: A core-periphery perspective.” American Sociological Review 79: 258-281.
- Muzaffar, Saeher, Kristin Cummings, Gerald Hobbs, Paul D. Allison, and Kathleen Kreiss(2013) Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 55: 1338-1344
- Wiebe, Douglas J., Wenshang Guo, Paul D. Allison, Elijah Anderson, Therese Richmond,Charles C. Branas (2013) “Fears of violence during morning travel to school.” Journal of Adolescent Health 53: 54-61.
- Masterson Creber, Ruth M., Paul D. Allison and Barbara J. Riegel (2013) “Overall perceived health predicts risk of hospitalizations and death in adults with heart failure: A prospective longitudinal study.” International Journal of Nursing Studies 60: 671-677.