Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects under Exogeneity: A Review
AbstractRecently there has been a surge in econometric work focusing on estimating average treatment effects under various sets of assumptions. One strand of this literature has developed methods for estimating average treatment effects for a binary treatment under assumptions variously described as exogeneity, unconfoundedness, or selection on observables. The implication of these assumptions is that systematic (e.g., average or distributional) differences in outcomes between treated and control units with the same values for the covariates are attributable to the treatment. Recent analysis has considered estimation and inference for average treatment effects under weaker assumptions than typical of the earlier literature by avoiding distributional and functional form assumptions. Various methods of semiparametric estimation have been proposed, including estimating the unknown regression functions, matching, methods using the propensity score such as weighting and blocking, and combinations of these approaches. In this paper I review the state of this literature and discuss some of its unanswered questions, focusing in particular on the practical implementation of these methods, the plausibility of this exogeneity assumption in economic applications, the relative performance of the various semiparametric estimators when the key assumptions (unconfoundedness and overlap) are satisfied, alternative estimands such as quantile treatment effects, and alternate methods such as Bayesian inference.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0294.
Date of creation: Oct 2003
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Other versions of this item:
- 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.
- C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
- C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2003-10-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-ECM-2003-10-20 (Econometrics)
- NEP-HEA-2003-10-20 (Health Economics)
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