Methodological problems in causal inference, with reference to transitional justice
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This dissertation addresses methodological problems in causal inference in the presence of time-varying confounding, and provides methodological tools to handle the problems within the potential outcomes framework of causal inference. The time-varying confounding is common in longitudinal observational studies, in which the covariates and treatments are interacting and changing over time in response to the intermediate outcomes and changing circumstances. The existing approaches in causal inference are mostly focused on static single-shot decision-making settings, and have limitations in estimating the effects of long-term treatments on the chronic problems. In this dissertation, I attempt to conceptualize the causal inference in this situation as a sequential decision problem, using the conceptual tools developed in decision theory, dynamic treatment regimes, and machine learning. I also provide methodological tools useful for this situation, especially when the treatments are multi-level and changing over time, using inverse probability weights and $g$-estimation. Substantively, this dissertation examines transitional justice's effects on human rights and democracy in emerging democracies. Using transitional justice as an example to illustrate the proposed methods, I conceptualize the adoption of transitional justice by a new government as a sequential decision-making process, and empirically examine the comparative effectiveness of transitional justice measures --- independently or in combination with others --- on human rights and democracy.