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Running and Jumping Variables in RD Designs

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Author Info

  • Alan Barreca

    ()

  • Melanie Guldi

    ()

  • Jason M. Lindo

    ()

  • Glen R. Waddell

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Abstract

This study demonstrates that regression discontinuity designs will arrive at biased estimates when attributes related to outcomes predict heaping in the running variable. We discuss several approaches to diagnosing and correcting for this type of problem. Our primary example focuses on the use of birth weights as a running variable. We begin by showing that birth weights are measured most precisely for children of white and highly educated mothers. As a result, less healthy children, who are more likely to be of low socioeconomic status, are disproportionately represented at multiples of round numbers. For this reason, RD estimates using birth weight as the running variable will be biased in a manner that leads one to conclude that it is "good" to be strictly less than any 100-gram cutoff. As such, prior estimates of the effects of very low birth weight classification (Almond, Doyle, Kowalski, and Williams 2010) have been overstated and appear to be zero. We also demonstrate potential problems using days of birth or grade point averages as running variables.

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File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1001.pdf
File Function: First version, 2010
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1001r1.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2011
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1001.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1001

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Related research

Keywords: regression discontinuity; birth weight; infant mortality;

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Cited by:
  1. Sa A. Bui & Steven G. Craig & Scott A. Imberman, 2011. "Is Gifted Education a Bright Idea? Assessing the Impact of Gifted and Talented Programs on Achievement," NBER Working Papers 17089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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