Causal Chain Example Essay In English

Cause and effect essays are another common essay type, either as an essay type on its own, or as part of a larger essay which includes one or more paragraphs examining causes and effects. This page gives information on what a cause and effect essay is, how to structure this type of essay, how to use cause and effect structure words (transition signals) for this type of essay. There is also an example cause and effect essay on the topic of women at work.

What are cause & effect essays?

A cause and effect essay looks at the reasons (or causes) for something, then discusses the results (or effects). For this reason, cause and effect essays are sometimes referred to as reason and result essays. They are one of the most common forms of organisation in academic writing. Sometimes the whole essay will be cause and effect, though sometimes this may be only part of the whole essay. It is also possible, especially for short exam essays, that only the causes or the effects, not both, are discussed. See the examples below.


There are two main ways to structure a cause & effect essay. These are similar to the ways to structure problem-solution essays, namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the causes are listed first, and all of the effects are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each cause is followed immediately by the effect. Usually that effect will then be the cause of the next effect, which is why this structure is called 'chain'. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any effects you present relate directly to the causes you have given.

The two types of structure, block and chain, are shown in the diagram below.



Transition sentence/paragraph




Cause 1
Effect of Cause 1

Cause 2
Effect of Cause 2

Cause 3
Effect of Cause 3


Cause and Effect Structure Words

Cause and effect structure words are transition signals which show the cause and effect relationships. It is important to be clear which is the cause (or reason) and which is the effect (or result), and to use the correct transition word or phrase. Remember that a cause happens first, and the effect happens later.

Below are some common cause and effect structure words. X is used to indicate a cause, while Y is used to indicate the effect.

Example essay

Below is a cause and effect essay. This essay uses the block structure. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Causes, Effects, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the causes and effects contained in the main body.

Title: More and more women are now going out to work and some women are now the major salary earner in the family. What are the causes of this, and what effect is this having on families and society?









Cause transitions


Effect transitions

In the past, most women stayed at home to take care of domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Women's liberation and feminismhave meant that this situation has been transformed and in contemporary society women are playing an almost equal role to men in terms of work. This has had significant consequences, both in terms of the family, for example by improving quality of life and increasing children's sense of independence, and also for society itself with greater gender equality.

The main reasons behind the increase of women in the workplace are women's liberation and feminism. The women's liberation movement originated in the 1960s and was popularised by authors such as Simone de Beauvoir. As a consequence of this, new legislation emerged, granting women equal rights to men in many fields, in particular employment. Because of feminist ideas, men have taken up roles which were previously seen as being for women only, most importantly those related to child rearing. As a result of this, women have more time to pursue their own careers and interests.

These have led to some significant effects, both to family life and to society as a whole.

Although the earning capacity of a woman in her lifetime is generally much less than that of a man, she can nevertheless make a significant contribution to the family income. The most important consequence of this is an improved quality of life. By helping to maintain a steady income for the family, the pressure on the husband is considerably reduced, hence improving both the husband's and the wife's emotional wellbeing. Additionally, the purchasing power of the family will also be raised. This means that the family can afford more luxuries such as foreign travel and a family car.

A further effect on the family is the promotion of independence in the children. Some might argue that having both parents working might be damaging to the children because of a lack of parental attention. However, such children have to learn to look after themselves at an earlier age, and their parents often rely on them to help with the housework. This therefore teaches them important life skills.

As regards society, the most significant impact of women going to work is greater gender equality. There are an increasing number of women who are becoming politicians, lawyers, and even CEOs and company managers. This in turn has led to greater equality for women in all areas of life, not just employment. For example, women today have much stronger legal rights to protect themselves against domestic violence and sexual discrimination in the workplace.

In conclusion, the increasing number of women at work has brought about some important changes to family life, including improved quality of life and increased independence for children, as well as affecting society itself. It is clear that the sexes are still a long way from being equal in all areas of life, however, and perhaps the challenge for the present century is to ensure that this takes place.








Cause transitions


Effect transitions


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Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

Causal Chain

A causal chain is the path of influence running from a root cause to problem symptoms. Each link in the chain repressents something in the real world. At one end of the chain is the root cause. At the other end is the symptoms it causes. The many links between the two ends are the intermediate causes. How this works is explained in this diagram:

This is the solution causal chain present in all problems. Popular approaches to solving the sustainability problem see only what's above the dashed line. If you're working on a difficult problem, you've got a superficial view of the problem. All you can see is what's obvious: the black arrows. This leads to the Superficial Soluitons Trap of using superficial solutions to push on low leverage points in order to resolve the intermediate causes of the problem. (This is exactly what classic activists are doing now.)

Popular solutions are superficial because they fail to see below the dashed line into the fundamental layer, where the complete causal chain runs to root causes. It's an easy trap to fall into because it intuitively seems that popular solutions like renewable energy, strong regulations, conservation, recycling and so forth should solve the sustainability problem. But they cannot, because they don't resolve the root causes.

If you take an analytical approach, root cause analysis allows you to penetrate the fundamental layer to find the well hidden red arrow. Further analysis finds the blue arrow.Fundamental solution elements are then developed to create the green arrow which solves the problem.

To more clearly show the superficial and fundamental layers, here's another diagram:

Click the image to see the causal chain links present in all problems. Click it again to hide the links. Each one of those links represents an entity in the real world that has a cause and effect. Something caused it to change. And once it changes, that has an effect on the next link in the chain. This is the classic systems thinking concept of cause and effect. Everything in a system is connected to one or more other things in a manner that results in astounding complexity and behavior.

The diagram illustrates all of the key concepts of root cause analysis. The deeper you go in your analysis the harder the chain is to see. That's why it helps to use a few tools. Of course, it takes a little more than a mouse....

Why causal chains are important

The concept of causal chains lies at the very heart of the paradigm. This leads to:

Our Fundamental Principle

The only way to solve a difficult problem
is to resolve its root causes.

The fastest way to implement this principle is to develop the ability to see causal chains everywhere. Everytime something interesting occurs, ask yourself: Why did that occur? What was the root cause? Follow the causal chain relentlessly until you get all the way to the root cause.

It won't be long before you're asking the “What is the root cause?” question about the sustainability problem or whatever big problems you're working on.

The important thing is to always visualize a causal chain running from symptoms to root causes. Don't direct your solutions to the intermediate causes, since they will be superficial solutions that cannot possibly solve the problem because they do not resolve the root causes. Instead, do what Henry David Thoreau implored us to do:

Strike at the root !

Solution Chain

By extending a causal chain all the way to the solution of a problem, we arrive at a solution chain. A solution chain is the path of influence running from solutions to problem symptoms. In your analysis, first you find the causal chain of a problem. That gives you the root cause. Working backward from that, then you find the solution chain. How this works in our approach to problem solving is illustrated below.

From the viewpoint of the System Improvement Process the upper four blue ovals are the causal chain for each subproblem. All eight ovals are the subproblem's solution chain. Solving the complete sustainability problem requires a high quality analysis and solution convergence effort that results in building four robust solution chains.

The five principles are discussed in the glossary entry on the Scientific Method, in the section on An alternative paradigm that could possibly work.

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