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Identification and Estimation of Casual Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment

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  • Carlos A. Flores

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

  • Alfonso Flores-Lagunes

    ()
    (Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida; Department of Economicsm, University of Arizona)

Abstract

An important goal in the analysis of the causal effect of a treatment on an outcome is to understand the mechanisms through which the treatment causally works. In the economics literature, however, there seems to be no available framework to estimate the relative importance of different causal mechanisms of a treatment. We fill this void by precisely defining a causal mechanism effect of a treatment and the causal effect of a treatment net of that mechanism using the potential outcomes framework, and by considering their identification and estimation. The definition of our parameters results in an intuitive decomposition of the total effect of a treatment that is useful for policy purposes. We offer conditions under which these causal effects can be estimated for the case of a randomly assigned treatment and when selection into the treatment is random conditional on a set of covariates. We close with two empirical applications that illustrate the concepts and methods introduced in this paper.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Miami, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0706.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 26 Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming, The Review of Economics and Statistics
Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:0706

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Postal: P.O. Box 248126, Coral Gables, FL 33124-6550
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: Casual inference; post-treatment variables; principal stratification.;

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References

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  1. Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso & Gonzalez, Arturo & Neumann, Todd C., 2005. "Learning but Not Earning? The Value of Job Corps Training for Hispanic Youths," IZA Discussion Papers 1638, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. 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.
  3. David Card & Dean R. Hyslop, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of a Time-Limited Earnings Subsidy for Welfare-Leavers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1723-1770, November.
  4. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey Smith, 2003. "How Robust is the Evidence on the Effects of College Quality? Evidence From Matching," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20033, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  5. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 1998. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W98/03, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2004. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 10552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  8. repec:att:wimass:8909 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Donald B. Rubin, 2005. "Causal Inference Using Potential Outcomes: Design, Modeling, Decisions," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 322-331, March.
  10. Donald B. Rubin, 2004. "Direct and Indirect Causal Effects via Potential Outcomes," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Danish Society for Theoretical Statistics & Finnish Statistical Society & Norwegian Statistical Association & Swedish Statistical Association, vol. 31(2), pages 161-170.
  11. Guido W. Imbens, 2003. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects under Exogeneity: A Review," NBER Technical Working Papers 0294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Lars Skipper & Marianne Simonsen, 2006. "The costs of motherhood: an analysis using matching estimators," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 919-934.
  13. Peter Adams & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden & Angela Merrill & Tiago Ribeiro, 2004. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Tests for Direct Causal Paths between Health and Socioeconomic Status," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 415-526 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bruce D. Meyer, 1995. "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 91-131, March.
  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. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew, 2007. "Getting inside the "Black Box" of Head Start quality: What matters and what doesn't," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 83-99, February.
  17. Manski, Charles F, 1990. "Nonparametric Bounds on Treatment Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 319-23, May.
  18. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Mealli, Fabrizia & Rubin, Donald B., 2003. "Assumptions allowing the estimation of direct causal effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 79-87, January.
  20. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. John C. Ham, 2010. "Government Programs Can Improve Local Labor Markets: Evidence from State Enterprise Zones, Federal Empowerment Zones and Federal Enterprise Communities," 2010 Meeting Papers 8, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Oscar A. Mitnik, 2007. "Intergenerational transmission of welfare dependency: The effects of length of exposure," Working Papers 0715, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  3. Huber, Martin, 2012. "Identifying causal mechanisms in experiments (primarily) based on inverse probability weighting," Economics Working Paper Series 1213, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, revised May 2013.

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