(26 May 2014): Alex Beaujean has published a book on Latent Variable Modeling Using R: A Step by Step Guide focusing on the lavaan package.
(24 April 2014): the lavaan paper has been downloaded >20.000 times.
The lavaan package is developed to provide useRs, researchers and teachers a free open-source, but commercial-quality package for latent variable modeling. You can use lavaan to estimate a large variety of multivariate statistical models, including path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling and growth curve models.
The official reference to the lavaan package is the following paper:
Yves Rosseel (2012). lavaan: An R Package for Structural Equation Modeling. Journal of Statistical Software, 48(2), 1-36. URL http://www.jstatsoft.org/v48/i02/
To get a first impression of how lavaan works in practice, consider the following example of a SEM model. The figure below contains a graphical representation of the model that we want to fit.
model <- ' # latent variables ind60 =~ x1 + x2 + x3 dem60 =~ y1 + y2 + y3 + y4 dem65 =~ y5 + y6 + y7 + y8 # regressions dem60 ~ ind60 dem65 ~ ind60 + dem60 # residual covariances y1 ~~ y5 y2 ~~ y4 + y6 y3 ~~ y7 y4 ~~ y8 y6 ~~ y8 ' fit <- sem(model, data=PoliticalDemocracy) summary(fit)