IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments

  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • Alan B. Krueger

Instrumental variables was first used in the 1920s to estimate supply and demand elasticities and later to correct for measurement error in single equation models. Recently, instrumental variables have been widely used to reduce bias from omitted variables in estimates of causal relationships. Intuitively, instrumental variables methods use only a portion of the variability in key variables to estimate the relationships of interest; if the instruments are valid, that portion is unrelated to the omitted variables. We discuss the mechanics of instrumental variables and the qualities that make for a good instrument, devoting particular attention to instruments derived from "natural experiments."

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 15 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 69-85

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:15:y:2001:i:4:p:69-85
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.15.4.69
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kenneth I. Wolpin & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2000. "Natural "Natural Experiments" in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(4), pages 827-874, December.
  2. Jinyong Hahn & Jerry Hausman, 2002. "A New Specification Test for the Validity of Instrumental Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 163-189, January.
  3. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  4. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1992. "Average causal response with variable treatment intensity," Discussion Paper 1992-34, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  5. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
  6. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  7. Bruce D. Meyer, 1994. "Natural and Quasi- Experiments in Economics," NBER Technical Working Papers 0170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Anderson, T W & Kunitomo, Naoto & Sawa, Takamitsu, 1982. "Evaluation of the Distribution Function of the Limited Information Maximum Likelihood Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1009-27, July.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & Alan Krueger, 1995. "Jackknife Instrumental Variables Estimation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Gary Chamberlain & Guido W. Imbens, 1996. "Hierarchical Bayes Models with Many Instrumental Variables," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1781, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. William N. Evans & Jeanne S. Ringel, 1997. "Can Higher Cigarette Taxes Improve Birth Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 5998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Meyer, Bruce D & Viscusi, W Kip & Durbin, David L, 1995. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 322-40, June.
  14. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
  15. Blank, Rebecca M, 1991. "The Effects of Double-Blind versus Single-Blind Reviewing: Experimental Evidence from The American Economic Review," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1041-67, December.
  16. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Sawa, Takamitsu, 1973. "Almost Unbiased Estimator in Simultaneous Equations Systems," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(1), pages 97-106, February.
  18. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," Working Papers 710, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Jeffrey R. Kling, 1999. "The Effect of Prison Sentence Length on the Subsequent Employment and Earnings of Criminal Defendants," Working Papers 156, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  20. Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 5866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  22. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," NBER Working Papers 5778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Anderson, Patricia M. & Meyer, Bruce D., 2000. "The effects of the unemployment insurance payroll tax on wages, employment, claims and denials," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 81-106, October.
  24. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Split-Sample Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 225-35, April.
  25. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
  26. Bekker, Paul A, 1994. "Alternative Approximations to the Distributions of Instrumental Variable Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 657-81, May.
  27. Peter Z. Schochet & John Burghardt & Steven Glazerman, 2000. "National Job Corps Study: The Short-Term Impacts of Job Corps on Participants, Employment, and Related Outcomes," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 547380e5101c4fd88dd00bc4e, Mathematica Policy Research.
  28. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  29. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, December.
  30. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1972. "Structural Equation Methods in the Social Sciences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(6), pages 979-1001, November.
  31. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
  32. Joshua D. Angrist & Kathryn Graddy & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Non-Parametric Demand Analysis with an Application to the Demand for Fish," NBER Technical Working Papers 0178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1995. "Split Sample Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2001. "Applications of Generalized Method of Moments Estimation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 87-100, Fall.
  35. Blomquist, Soren & Dahlberg, Matz, 1999. "Small Sample Properties of LIML and Jackknife IV Estimators: Experiments with Weak Instruments," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 69-88, Jan.-Feb..
  36. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:15:y:2001:i:4:p:69-85. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.