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Inference on treatment effects after selection amongst high-dimensional controls

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Author Info

  • Alexandre Belloni
  • Victor Chernozhukov

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and MIT)

  • Christian Hansen

Abstract

We propose robust methods for inference on the effect of a treatment variable on a scalar outcome in the presence of very many controls. Our setting is a partially linear model with possibly non-Gaussian and heteroscedastic disturbances where the number of controls may be much larger than the sample size. To make informative inference feasible, we require the model to be approximately sparse; that is, we require that the effect of confounding factors can be controlled for up to a small approximation error by conditioning on a relatively small number of controls whose identities are unknown. The latter condition makes it possible to estimate the treatment effect by selecting approximately the right set of controls. We develop a novel estimation and uniformly valid inference method for the treatment effect in this setting, called the 'post-double-selection' method. Our results apply to Lasso-type methods used for covariate selection as well as to any other model selection method that is able to find a sparse model with good approximation properties. The main attractive feature of our method is that it allows for imperfect selection of the controls and provides confidence intervals that are valid uniformly across a large class of models. In contrast, standard post-model selection estimators fail to provide uniform inference even in simple cases with a small, fixed number of controls. Thus our method resolves the problem of uniform inference after model selection for a large, interesting class of models. We illustrate the use of the developed methods with numerical simulations and an application to the effect of abortion on crime rates. This paper is a revision of CWP42/11.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series CeMMAP working papers with number CWP10/12.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:10/12

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References

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  1. Andrews, Donald W.K. & Cheng, Xu, 2013. "Maximum likelihood estimation and uniform inference with sporadic identification failure," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 173(1), pages 36-56.
  2. A. Belloni & D. Chen & Victor Chernozhukov & Christian Hansen, 2010. "Sparse models and methods for optimal instruments with an application to eminent domain," CeMMAP working papers CWP31/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Donald W.K. Andrews & Xu Cheng & Patrik Guggenberger, 2011. "Generic Results for Establishing the Asymptotic Size of Confidence Sets and Tests," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1813, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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Cited by:
  1. Imbens, Guido W., 2014. "Matching Methods in Practice: Three Examples," IZA Discussion Papers 8049, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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