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Identifying causal mechanisms in experiments (primarily) based on inverse probability weighting

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  • Huber, Martin

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Abstract

This paper demonstrates the identification of causal mechanisms in experiments with a binary treatment, (primarily) based on inverse probability weighting. I.e., we consider the average indirect effect of the treatment, which operates through an intermediate variable (or mediator) that is situated on the causal path between the treatment and the outcome, as well as the (unmediated) direct effect. Even under random treatment assignment, subsequent selection into the mediator is generally non-random such that causal mechanisms are only identified when controlling for confounders of the mediator and the outcome. To tackle this issue, units are weighted by the inverse of their conditional treatment propensity given the mediator and observed confounders. We show that the form and applicability of weighting depend on whether the confounders are themselves influenced by the treatment or not. A simulation study gives the intuition for these results and an empirical application to the direct and indirect health effects (through employment) of the U.S. Job Corps program is also provided.

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File URL: http://www1.vwa.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/econwp/EWP-1213.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science in its series Economics Working Paper Series with number 1213.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision: May 2013
Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2012:13

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Keywords: Causal mechanisms; mediation analysis; direct and indirect effects; experiment; inverse probability weighting;

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References

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  1. Kosuke Imai & Dustin Tingley & Teppei Yamamoto, 2013. "Experimental designs for identifying causal mechanisms," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(1), pages 5-51, 01.
  2. Huber, Martin & Lechner, Michael & Wunsch, Conny, 2009. "Does Leaving Welfare Improve Health? Evidence for Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 7421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Petri Böckerman & Pekka Ilmakunnas, 2009. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: evidence from panel data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 161-179.
  4. Carlos A. Flores & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, 2010. "Nonparametric Partial Identification of Causal Net and Mechanism Average Treatment Effects," Working Papers 2010-25, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  5. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," NBER Technical Working Papers 0251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Peter Z. Schochet & John Burghardt & Steven Glazerman, 2001. "National Job Corps Study: The Impacts of Job Corps on Participants' Employment and Related Outcomes," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 2951, Mathematica Policy Research.
  8. Carlos A. Flores & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, 2007. "Identification and Estimation of Casual Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment," Working Papers 0706, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  9. Richard K. Crump & V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2004. "Dealing with Limited Overlap in Estimation of Average Treatment Effects," Working Papers 0716, University of Miami, Department of Economics, revised 12 Jun 2007.
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  13. Busso, Matias & DiNardo, John & McCrary, Justin, 2009. "New Evidence on the Finite Sample Properties of Propensity Score Matching and Reweighting Estimators," IZA Discussion Papers 3998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Newey, Whitney K., 1984. "A method of moments interpretation of sequential estimators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 14(2-3), pages 201-206.
  15. Li, Qi & Racine, Jeffrey S. & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2009. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects with Mixed Categorical and Continuous Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(2), pages 206-223.
  16. Martin Huber & Michael Lechner & Conny Wunsch, 2010. "How to control for many covariates? Reliable estimators based on the propensity score," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  17. Shaikh, Azeem M. & Simonsen, Marianne & Vytlacil, Edward J. & Yildiz, Nese, 2009. "A specification test for the propensity score using its distribution conditional on participation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 151(1), pages 33-46, July.
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  19. Martin Huber, 2010. "Identification of average treatment effects in social experiments under different forms of attrition," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-22, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  20. Lars Skipper & Marianne Simonsen, 2006. "The costs of motherhood: an analysis using matching estimators," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 919-934.
  21. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Frölich, Markus & Huber, Martin, 2014. "Direct and Indirect Treatment Effects: Causal Chains and Mediation Analysis with Instrumental Variables," IZA Discussion Papers 8280, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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