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Program Evaluation and Research Designs

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  • John DiNardo
  • David S. Lee

Abstract

This chapter provides a selective review of some contemporary approaches to program evaluation. One motivation for our review is the recent emergence and increasing use of a particular kind of “program” in applied microeconomic research, the so-called Regression Discontinuity (RD) Design of Thistlethwaite and Campbell (1960). We organize our discussion of these various research designs by how they secure internal validity: in this view, the RD design can been seen as a close “cousin” of the randomized experiment. An important distinction which emerges from our discussion of “heterogeneous treatment effects” is between ex post (descriptive) and ex ante (predictive) evaluations; these two types of evaluations have distinct, but complementary goals. A second important distinction we make is between statistical statements that are descriptions of our knowledge of the program assignment process and statistical statements that are structural assumptions about individual behavior. Using these distinctions, we examine some commonly employed evaluation strategies, and assess them with a common set of criteria for “internal validity”, the foremost goal of an ex post evaluation. In some cases, we also provide some concrete illustrations of how internally valid causal estimates can be supplemented with specific structural assumptions to address “external validity”: the estimate from an internally valid "experimental" estimate can be viewed as a “leading term” in an extrapolation for a parameter of interest in an ex ante evaluation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16016.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Publication status: published as “Program Evaluation and Research Designs” with John DiNard o, in Handbook of Labor Economics, Volume 4A , Orley Ashenfelter and David Card, ed., Elsevier B.V., 2011.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16016

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Cited by:
  1. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2011. "Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations," NBER Working Papers 17062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bloom, Nicholas & Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Human Resource Management and Productivity," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier.
  3. Arni, Patrick, 2012. "Kausale Evaluation von Pilotprojekten: Die Nutzung von Randomisierung in der Praxis," IZA Standpunkte, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) 52, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. de Chaisemartin, Clement, 2013. "Defying the LATE? Identification of local treatment effects when the instrument violates monotonicity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS), University of Warwick, Department of Economics 1020, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Matthew D. Webb, 2013. "Reworking Wild Bootstrap Based Inference for Clustered Errors," Working Papers, Queen's University, Department of Economics 1315, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  6. Chaisemartin, Clément de, 2014. "Tolerating defiance? Local average treatment effects without monotonicity," CAGE Online Working Paper Series, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) 197, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  7. David E. Card & Pablo Ibarraran & Juan Miguel Villa, 2011. "Building in an Evaluation Component for Active Labor Market Programs: A Practitioner's Guide," SPD Working Papers, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness (SPD) 1101, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness (SPD).
  8. Doyle, Joseph J., 2013. "Causal effects of foster care: An instrumental-variables approach," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1143-1151.
  9. Harding, Matthew & Lamarche, Carlos, 2014. "Estimating and testing a quantile regression model with interactive effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 178(P1), pages 101-113.

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  1. Labor Economics (ECON 531)

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