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Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand

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Author Info

  • Richard K. Crump

    (University of California at Berkeley)

  • V. Joseph Hotz

    (University of California at Los Angeles)

  • Guido W. Imbens

    (University of California at Berkeley)

  • Oscar A. Mitnik

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

Abstract

Estimation of average treatment effects under unconfoundedness or exogenous treatment assignment is often hampered by lack of overlap in the covariate distributions. This lack of overlap can lead to imprecise estimates and can make commonly used estimators sensitive to the choice of specification. In such cases researchers have often used informal methods for trimming the sample. In this paper we develop a systematic approach to addressing such lack of overlap. We characterize optimal subsamples for which the average treatment effect can be estimated most precisely, as well as optimally weighted average treatment effects. Under some conditions the optimal selection rules depend solely on the propensity score. For a wide range of distributions a good approximation to the optimal rule is provided by the simple selection rule to drop all units with estimated propensity scores outside the range [0.1, 0.9].

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp2347.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Miami, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0608.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in the Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, German
Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:0608

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Phone: (305) 284-5540
Fax: (305) 284-2985
Web page: http://www.bus.miami.edu/faculty-and-research/academic-departments/economics/index.html
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Related research

Keywords: average treatment effects; causality; unconfoundedness; overlap; treatment effect heterogeneity;

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References

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  1. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
  2. Mitnik, Oscar K. & Imbens, Guido & Hotz, V. Joseph & Crump, Richard K., 2008. "Nonparametric Tests for Treatment Effect Heterogeneity," Scholarly Articles 3039049, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," NBER Working Papers 6699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  5. Joshua D. Angrist, 1998. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 249-288, March.
  6. Guido W. Imbens & Whitney Newey & Geert Ridder, 2006. "Mean-squared-error Calculations for Average Treatment Effects," IEPR Working Papers 06.57, Institute of Economic Policy Research (IEPR).
  7. Richard K. Crump & V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2006. "Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand," Working Papers 0608, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  8. Newey, W.K., 1992. "Kernel Estimation of Partial Means and a General Variance Estimator," Working papers 93-3, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, 01.
  11. Chen, Xiaohong & Hong, Han & Tarozzi, Alessandro, 2008. "Semiparametric Efficiency in GMM Models of Nonclassical Measurement Errors, Missing Data and Treatment Effects," Working Papers 42, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  12. Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 2003. "Does Matching Overcome Lalonde's Critique of Nonexperimental Estimators?," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20035, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  13. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2003. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1161-1189, 07.
  14. Richard K. Crump & V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2006. "Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in the Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand," NBER Technical Working Papers 0330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  16. Guildo W. Imbens, 2003. "Sensitivity to Exogeneity Assumptions in Program Evaluation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 126-132, May.
  17. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
  18. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Some practical issues in the evaluation of heterogeneous labour market programmes by matching methods," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 165(1), pages 59-82.
  19. repec:cup:etheor:v:10:y:1994:i:2:p:233-53 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Jinyong Hahn, 1998. "On the Role of the Propensity Score in Efficient Semiparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 315-332, March.
  21. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  22. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  23. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  24. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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