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Causal Effects of Perceived Immutable Characteristics

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  • D. James Greiner

    (Harvard Law School)

  • Donald B. Rubin

    (Harvard University)

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    Abstract

    Despite their ubiquity, observational studies to infer the causal effect of a so-called immutable characteristic, such as race or sex, have struggled for coherence, given the unavailability of a manipulation analogous to a “treatment” in a randomized experiment and the danger of posttreatment bias. We demonstrate that a shift in focus from actual traits to perceptions of them can address both of these issues while facilitating articulation of other critical concepts, particularly the timing of treatment assignment. We illustrate concepts by discussing the designs of various studies of the role of race in trial court death penalty decisions. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

    Volume (Year): 93 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (August)
    Pages: 775-785

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    Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:3:p:775-785

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    Cited by:
    1. Olsson, Ola & Siba, Eyerusalem, 2013. "Ethnic cleansing or resource struggle in Darfur? An empirical analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 299-312.
    2. Huber, Martin, 2014. "Causal pitfalls in the decomposition of wage gaps," Economics Working Paper Series 1405, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    3. Arpino, Bruno & Mattei, Alessandra, 2013. "Assessing the Impact of Financial Aids to Firms: Causal Inference in the presence of Interference," MPRA Paper 51795, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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