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Heaping-Induced Bias in Regression-Discontinuity Designs

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  • Alan I. Barreca
  • Jason M. Lindo
  • Glen R. Waddell

Abstract

This study uses Monte Carlo simulations to demonstrate that regression-discontinuity designs arrive at biased estimates when attributes related to outcomes predict heaping in the running variable. After showing that our usual diagnostics are poorly suited to identifying this type of problem, we provide alternatives. We also demonstrate how the magnitude and direction of the bias varies with bandwidth choice and the location of the data heaps relative to the treatment threshold. Finally, we discuss approaches to correcting for this type of problem before considering these issues in several non-simulated environments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17408.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17408

Note: ED HE LS TWP
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  1. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  2. Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Elder, Todd, 2010. "Suburban legend: School cutoff dates and the timing of births," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 826-841, October.
  3. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2006. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," NBER Working Papers 12329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Douglas Almond & Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. & Amanda E. Kowalski & Heidi Williams, 2008. "Estimating Marginal Returns to Medical Care: Evidence from At-Risk Newborns," NBER Working Papers 14522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  6. Cook, Thomas D., 2008. ""Waiting for Life to Arrive": A history of the regression-discontinuity design in Psychology, Statistics and Economics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 636-654, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Jason M. Lindo & Isaac D. Swensen & Glen R. Waddell, 2011. "Alcohol and Student Performance: Estimating the Effect of Legal Access," NBER Working Papers 17637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lex Borghans & Anne C. Gielen & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2012. "Social Support Substitution and the Earnings Rebound: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity in Disability Insurance Reform," NBER Working Papers 18261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dague, Laura & DeLeire, Thomas C. & Leininger, Lindsey, 2014. "The Effect of Public Insurance Coverage for Childless Adults on Labor Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 8187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Laura Dague & Thomas DeLeire & Lindsey Leininger, 2014. "The Effect of Public Insurance Coverage for Childless Adults on Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 20111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rodney J. Andrews & Trevon D. Logan & Michael J. Sinkey, 2012. "Identifying Confirmatory Bias in the Field: Evidence from a Poll of Experts," NBER Working Papers 18064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Silvia H. Barcellos & Mireille Jacobson, 2014. "The Effects of Medicare on Medical Expenditure Risk and Financial Strain," NBER Working Papers 19954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Laura Dague & Thomas DeLeire & Lindsey Leininger, 2014. "This study provides plausibly causal estimates of the effect of public insurance coverage on the employment of nonelderly, nondisabled adults without dependent children (“childless adults”). We us," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-213, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  8. Chakrabarti, Rajashri, 2014. "Incentives and responses under No Child Left Behind: Credible threats and the role of competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 124-146.
  9. Michael Gerfin & Boris Kaiser & Christian Schmid, 2014. "Health Care Demand in the Presence of Discrete Price Changes," Diskussionsschriften dp1403, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  10. Daysal, N. Meltem & Trandafir, Mircea & van Ewijk, Reyn, 2013. "Returns to Childbirth Technologies: Evidence from Preterm Births," IZA Discussion Papers 7834, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Thomas Dee, 2012. "School Turnarounds: Evidence from the 2009 Stimulus," NBER Working Papers 17990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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