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The Truncation-by-Death Problem: What to Do in an Experimental Evaluation When the Outcome Is Not Always Defined


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  • Sheena McConnell
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart
  • Barbara Devaney
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    Although experiments are viewed as the gold standard for evaluation, some of their benefits may be lost when, as is common, outcomes are not defined for some sample members. In evaluations of marriage interventions, for example, a key outcome—relationship quality—is undefined when a couple splits up. This article shows how treatment-control differences in mean outcomes can be misleading when outcomes are not defined for everyone and discusses ways to identify the seriousness of the problem. Potential solutions to the problem are described, including approaches that rely on simple treatment-control differences-in-means as well as more complex modeling approaches.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Mathematica Policy Research in its series Mathematica Policy Research Reports with number 5880.

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    Length: 30
    Date of creation: 30 Apr 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mpr:mprres:5880

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    Postal: Mathematica Policy Research P.O. Box 2393 Princeton, NJ 08543-2393 Attn: Communications
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    Related research

    Keywords: truncation; principal stratification; experiments; marriage;

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    Cited by:
    1. Marcia J. Carlson & Alicia G. VanOrman, 2013. "Trajectories of Couple Relationship Quality after Childbirth: Does Marriage Matter?," Working Papers 1481, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..


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