Quantitative Social Science

An Introduction



An introductory textbook on data analysis and statistics written especially
for students in the social sciences and allied fields

Student MaterialsInstructor Materials

QSS: An Introduction Book Cover​Quantitative analysis is an increasingly essential skill for social science research, yet students in the social sciences and related areas typically receive little training in it—or if they do, they usually end up in statistics classes that offer few insights into their field. This textbook is a practical introduction to data analysis and statistics written especially for undergraduates and beginning graduate students in the social sciences and allied fields, such as economics, sociology, public policy, and data science.

Quantitative Social Science engages directly with empirical analysis, showing students how to analyze data using the R programming language and to interpret the results—it encourages hands-on learning, not paper-and-pencil statistics. More than forty data sets taken directly from leading quantitative social science research illustrate how data analysis can be used to answer important questions about society and human behavior.

Proven in the classroom, this one-of-a-kind textbook features numerous additional data analysis exercises and interactive R programming exercises, and also comes with supplementary teaching materials for instructors.


  • Written especially for students in the social sciences and allied fields, including economics, sociology, public policy, and data science
  • Provides hands-on instruction using R programming, not paper-and-pencil statistics
  • Includes more than forty data sets from actual research for students to test their skills on
  • Covers data analysis concepts such as causality, measurement, and prediction, as well as probability and statistical tools
  • Features a wealth of supplementary exercises, including additional data analysis exercises and interactive programming exercises
  • Offers a solid foundation for further study
  • Comes with additional course materials online, including notes, sample code, exercises and problem sets with solutions, and lecture slides

Paperback | ISBN: 9780691175461
$49.50 | £41.95

Published: Feb 27, 2017
Copyright: 2018

432 pp. | 7 x 10 | 14 color illus.
9 halftones. 77 line illus.


Hardcover ISBN: 9780691167039
$95.00 | £78.00

Published: Feb 27, 2017
Copyright: 2018

432 pp. | 7 x 10 | 14 color illus.
9 halftones. 77 line illus.


eBook | eISBN: 9781400885251
Published: Feb 27, 2017
Copyright: 2018

432 pp. | 7 x 10 | 14 color illus.
9 halftones. 77 line illus.

saveTable of Contents [PDF] 

saveErrata (6/28/20) [PDF]

saveList of Tables [PDF]

saveList of Figures [PDF]

saveIllustration Package [ZIP]

savePreface [PDF]

saveChapter 1. Introduction [PDF]

saveChapter 2. Causality [PDF]

Chapter 3. Measurement

Chapter 4. Prediction

Chapter 5. Discovery

Chapter 6. Probability

Chapter 7. Uncertainty

Chapter 8. Next

General Index

R Index

1. POL 345 / SOC 305: Introduction to Quantitative Social Science

Fall 2016

Margaret Frye (Sociology), Kosuke Imai (Politics)

Princeton University

Introduction to Quantitative Social Science Syllabus [PDF] save

Would universal health insurance improve the health of the poor? Do patterns of arrests in US cities show evidence of racial profiling? What accounts for who votes and their choice of candidates? This course will teach students how to address these and other social science questions by analyzing quantitative data. The course introduces basic principles of statistical inference and programming skills for data analysis. The goal is to provide students with the foundation necessary to analyze data in their own research and to become critical consumers of statistical claims made in the news media, in policy reports, and in academic research.

2. POL 245: Visualizing Data

Summer 2015

James Lo, Will Lo (Instructors) Winston Chou, Elisha Cohen (Preceptors) Alex Tarr (QuantLab Coordinator) Kosuke Imai (Course Head)

Department of Politics, Princeton University

Visualizing Data Syllabus [PDF] save

In this course, we consider ways to illustrate compelling stories hidden in a blizzard of data. Equal parts art, programming, and statistical reasoning, data visualization is a critical tool for anyone doing analysis. In recent years, data analysis skills have become essential for those pursuing careers in policy advocacy and evaluation, business consulting and management, or academic research in the fields of education, health, medicine, and social science. This course introduces students to the powerful R programming language and the basics of creating data-analytic graphics in R. From there, we use real datasets to explore topics ranging from network data (like social interactions on Facebook or trade between counties) to geographical data (like county-level election returns in the US or the spatial distribution of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan). No prior background in statistics or programming is required or expected.

3. Statistical Programming Camp

Spring 2017

Munji Choi, Asya Magazinnik, (Instructors) Kosuke Imai (Faculty Advisor)

Department of Politics, Princeton University

Visualizing Data Syllabus [PDF] save

Visualizing Data Lecture Video

This camp will prepare students for POL 572 and other quantitative analysis courses offered in the Politics department and elsewhere. Although participation in this camp is completely voluntary, the materials covered in this camp are a pre-requisite for POL 572. Students will learn the basics of statistical programming using R, an open-source computing environment. Using data from published journal articles, students will learn how to manipulate data, create graphs and tables, and conduct basic statistical analysis. This camp assumes knowledge of probability and statistics as covered in POL 571.

“Kosuke Imai has produced a superb hands-on introduction to modern quantitative methods in the social sciences. Placing practical data analysis front and center, this book is bound to become a standard reference in the field of quantitative social science and an indispensable resource for students and practitioners alike.”—Alberto Abadie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The search for a good undergraduate social science textbook is eternal, but with Imai’s book, the search may well be over. It covers a host of cutting-edge issues in quantitative analysis, from causality and inference to its use of R so that students can advance in both their research and work lives. Imai plots a new way for us to think about how to teach undergraduate methods.”—Nathaniel Beck, New York University

“Kosuke Imai’s book takes a very novel and interesting approach to a first quantitative methods course for the social sciences. Focusing on interesting questions from the beginning, he starts by introducing the potential outcome approach to causality, and proceeds to present the reader with a wide range of methods for an admirably broad range of settings, including textual, network, and spatial data. Integrated with the methodological discussions are examples with detailed R code. Readers who work through this book will be well equipped to use modern methods for data analysis in the social sciences. I highly recommend this book!”—Guido W. Imbens, coauthor of Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences

“This important new book seeks to democratize quantitative social science. In it, one of the world’s foremost political methodologists shows how you can join the movement that has changed so much of the academic, commercial, government, and nonprofit worlds. It provides a seamless path from ignorance to insight in a few hundred clear and enlightening pages.”—Gary King, Harvard University

“Imai’s new textbook has the potential to totally transform how undergraduate statistics is taught. The focus is on data analysis first and statistics second. It is full of great and relevant empirical examples. Students will engage this book rather than dread it.”—Christopher Winship, Harvard University

“This is the ideal book for a first class on data analysis. Not only does it provide students with a clear, accessible, and technically correct introduction to research design, computing with data, and statistical inference, but it does what truly great introductions to a topic all do–it generates excitement.”—Kevin M. Quinn, University of California, Berkeley

“Finally, a statistics text has caught up with rapid developments in the social sciences in the last two decades, spanning everything from the rediscovery of design, randomization, and causality to Bayesian approaches. From the organization of the subject matter (e.g., causality, measurement, uncertainty) to the mode of presentation, Imai has produced a work that is both comprehensive and accessible, but reflects the vast breadth of topics and approaches today’s social scientists are expected to know. The examples are extremely well chosen, a delight to read, and accompanied by R code. Social science finally has an introductory book that presents statistics as it is practiced at the research frontier today, not thirty years ago.”—Simon Jackman, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney

“Imai’s new book on quantitative social science represents a groundbreaking and effective method for teaching statistics and quantitative methods to students in any number of fields—ranging from public health and medicine to education and political science. The motivating examples, clear and engaging exposition, and easy implementation for students will make it a resource they (and their instructors) turn to again and again.”—Elizabeth Stuart, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Imai’s fantastic textbook provides a succinct but thorough introduction to quantitative methods and how they are applied to social science problems. The text is easy to read while also providing material that is generally pitched at a level appropriate for newcomers to the subject.”—Justin Grimmer, Stanford University

“Imai’s text is engaging and full of examples. It will be widely taught and will have a wide impact. Anyone who really masters the skills and concepts presented here will know statistics better than many professional political scientists.”—Andrew Eggers, University of Oxford

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