Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Covariates and causal effects: the problem of context

Contents:

Author Info

  • Dionissi Aliprantis

Abstract

This paper is concerned with understanding how causal effects can be identified in past data and then used to predict the future in light of the problem of context, or the fact that treatment always influences the outcome variable in combination with covariates. Structuralist and experimentalist views of econometric methodology can be reconciled by adopting notation capable of distinguishing between effects independent of and dependent on context, or direct and net effects. By showing that identification of direct and net effects imposes distinct assumptions on selection into covariates (i.e., exclusion restrictions) and explicitly constructing predictions based on past effects, the paper is able to characterize the tradeoff researchers face. Relative to direct effects, net effects can be identified in the past from more general data-generating processes (DGPs), but they can predict the future of less general DGPs. Predicting the future with either type of effect requires knowledge of direct effects. To highlight implications for applied work, I discuss why Local Average Treatment Effects and Marginal Treatment Effects of educational attainment are net effects and are therefore difficult to interpret, even when identified with a perfectly randomized treatment.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.clevelandfed.org/research/workpaper/2013/wp1310.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 1310.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1310

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 1455 East 6th St., Cleveland OH 44114
Phone: 216.579.2000
Web page: http://www.clevelandfed.org/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Email:

Related research

Keywords: Statistical methods ; Econometric models;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2010. "Estimating Marginal Returns to Education," NBER Working Papers 16474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Heckman, James J., 2008. "Econometric Causality," IZA Discussion Papers 3425, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Jeffrey R. Kling, 2004. "Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings," Working Papers 873, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Heckman, James & Navarro-Lozano, Salvador, 2003. "Using matching, instrumental variables and control functions to estimate economic choice models," Working Paper Series 2003:4, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  5. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Instruments, randomization, and learning about development," Working Papers 1224, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  6. Karim Chalak & Halbert White, 2008. "Causality, Conditional Independence, and Graphical Separation in Settable Systems," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 689, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 04 Jul 2010.
  7. Aliprantis, Dionissi, 2012. "Assessing the evidence on neighborhood effects from Moving to Opportunity," Working Paper 1122R, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  8. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  9. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance & Todd, Petra E., 2008. "Earnings Functions and Rates of Return," IZA Discussion Papers 3310, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2010. "The credibility revolution in empirical economics: how better research design is taking the con out of econometrics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48898, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 5-86, March.
  13. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  14. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-86, December.
  15. Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1977. "Education and Screening," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 949-58, December.
  16. Karim Chalak & Halbert White, 2007. "An Extended Class of Instrumental Variables for the Estimation of Causal Effects," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 692, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 30 Nov 2009.
  17. Keane, Michael P., 2010. "Structural vs. atheoretic approaches to econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 3-20, May.
  18. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2008. "Alternative approaches to evaluation in empirical microeconomics," CeMMAP working papers CWP26/08, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  19. Nathaniel Baum-Snow & Ronni Pavan, 2013. "Inequality and City Size," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1535-1548, December.
  20. Sobel, Michael E., 2006. "What Do Randomized Studies of Housing Mobility Demonstrate?: Causal Inference in the Face of Interference," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 101, pages 1398-1407, December.
  21. Light, Audrey, 2001. "In-School Work Experience and the Returns to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 65-93, January.
  22. Dan Black & Natalia Kolesnikova & Lowell J. Taylor, 2007. "Earnings functions when wages and prices vary by location," Working Papers 2007-031, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  23. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
  24. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward Vytlacil, 2009. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," Working Papers 200941, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  25. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  26. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
  27. Belzil, Christian, 2006. "The Return to Schooling in Structural Dynamic Models: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "Power Couples: Changes In The Locational Choice Of The College Educated, 1940-1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1287-1315, November.
  29. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  30. Jeffrey R. Kling, 2000. "Interpreting Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Returns to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 7989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Bishop, John H. & Mane, Ferran, 2004. "The impacts of career-technical education on high school labor market success," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 381-402, August.
  32. Layard, Richard & Psacharopoulos, George, 1974. "The Screening Hypothesis and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 985-98, Sept./Oct.
  33. Rashmi Barua & Kevin Lang, 2009. "School Entry, Educational Attainment and Quarter of Birth: A Cautionary Tale of LATE," NBER Working Papers 15236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Joshua Angrist & Ivan Fernandez-Val, 2010. "ExtrapoLATE-ing: External Validity and Overidentification in the LATE Framework," NBER Working Papers 16566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Jonathan Meer, 2005. "Evidence on the Returns to Secondary Vocational Education," Discussion Papers 04-014, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  36. Scott E. Carrell & Bruce I. Sacerdote & James E. West, 2013. "From Natural Variation to Optimal Policy? The Importance of Endogenous Peer Group Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 855-882, 05.
  37. Dionissi Aliprantis, 2010. "Redshirting, compulsory schooling laws, and educational attainment," Working Paper 1012, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  38. Helena Skyt Nielsen & Michael Svarer, 2009. "Educational Homogamy: How Much is Opportunities?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).
  39. Heckman, James J, 1996. "Randomization as an Instrumental Variable: Notes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 336-41, May.
  40. James Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith & Michael Khoo, 2000. "Substitution And Dropout Bias In Social Experiments: A Study Of An Influential Social Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 651-694, May.
  41. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2005. "Violating Ignorability Of Treatment By Controlling For Too Many Factors," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(05), pages 1026-1028, October.
  42. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
  43. Halbert White & Karim Chalak, 2013. "Identification and Identification Failure for Treatment Effects Using Structural Systems," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(3), pages 273-317, November.
  44. Edward E. Leamer, 2010. "Tantalus on the Road to Asymptopia," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 31-46, Spring.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1310. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lee Faulhaber).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.