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Average treatment effect estimation via random recursive partitioning

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  • Giuseppe PORRO

    ()

  • Stefano Maria IACUS

    ()

Abstract

A new matching method is proposed for the estimation of the average treatment effect of social policy interventions (e. g. , training programs or health care measures. Given an outcome variable, a treatment and a set of pre-treatment covariates, the method is based on the examination of random recursive partitions of the space of covariates using regression trees. A regression tree is grown either on the treated or on the untreated individuals {\it only} using as response variable a random permutation of the indexes 1,. . . ,n (n being the number of units involved), while the indexes for the other group are predicted using this tree. The procedure is replicated in order to rule out the effect of specific permutations. The average treatment effect is estimated in each tree by matching treated and untreated in the same terminal nodes. The final estimator of the average treatment effect is obtained by averaging on all the trees grown. The method does not require any specific model assumption apart from the tree's complexity, which does not affect the estimator though. We show that this method is either an instrument to check whether two samples can be matched (by any method) and, when this is feasible, to obtain reliable estimates of the average treatment effect. We further propose a graphical tool to inspect the quality of the match. The method has been applied to the National Supported Work Demonstration data, previously analyzed by Lalonde (1986) and others.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2004-28.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2004
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Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2004-28

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Keywords: average treatment effect; recursive partitioning; matching estimators; observational studies; bias reduction;

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  1. 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.
  2. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
  3. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Smith, Jeffrey & Todd, Petra, 2005. "Rejoinder," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 365-375.
  7. Dehejia, Rajeev, 2005. "Practical propensity score matching: a reply to Smith and Todd," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 355-364.
  8. 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.
  9. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
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