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Testing the Accuracy of Regression Discontinuity Analysis Using Experimental Benchmarks

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  • Green, Donald P.
  • Leong, Terence Y.
  • Kern, Holger L.
  • Gerber, Alan S.
  • Larimer, Christopher W.

Abstract

Regression discontinuity (RD) designs enable researchers to estimate causal effects using observational data. These causal effects are identified at the point of discontinuity that distinguishes those observations that do or do not receive the treatment. One challenge in applying RD in practice is that data may be sparse in the immediate vicinity of the discontinuity. Expanding the analysis to observations outside this immediate vicinity may improve the statistical precision with which treatment effects are estimated, but including more distant observations also increases the risk of bias. Model specification is another source of uncertainty; as the bandwidth around the cutoff point expands, linear approximations may break down, requiring more flexible functional forms. Using data from a large randomized experiment conducted by Gerber, Green, and Larimer (2008), this study attempts to recover an experimental benchmark using RD and assesses the uncertainty introduced by various aspects of model and bandwidth selection. More generally, we demonstrate how experimental benchmarks can be used to gauge and improve the reliability of RD analyses.

Suggested Citation

  • Green, Donald P. & Leong, Terence Y. & Kern, Holger L. & Gerber, Alan S. & Larimer, Christopher W., 2009. "Testing the Accuracy of Regression Discontinuity Analysis Using Experimental Benchmarks," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 400-417.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:polals:v:17:y:2009:i:04:p:400-417_01
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Ventosa-Santaulària & Carlos Vladimir Rodríguez-Caballero, 2013. "Polynomial Regressions and Nonsense Inference," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 1(3), pages 1-13, November.
    2. Solé-Ollé, Albert & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2013. "Do political parties matter for local land use policies?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 42-56.
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    4. Marta Curto-Grau (Universitat de Barcelona) & Albert Sole-Olle (Universitat de Barcelona) & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro(Universitat de Barcelona), 2012. "Partisan targeting of inter-governmental transfers & state interference in local elections: evidence from Spain," Working Papers in Economics 288, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    5. Rastad, Mahdi, 2016. "Capital structure pre-balancing: Evidence from convertible bonds," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 43-65.
    6. repec:spr:empeco:v:55:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s00181-017-1314-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mazzutti, Caio Cícero Toledo Piza da Costa, 2016. "Three essays on the causal impacts of child labour laws in Brazil," Economics PhD Theses 0616, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    8. repec:kap:pubcho:v:175:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-018-0548-y is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Arteaga, Irma & Heflin, Colleen & Gable, Sara, 2016. "The impact of aging out of WIC on food security in households with children," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 82-96.
    10. Cappelletti, Giuseppe & Peeters, Jonas & Budrys, Žymantas & Varraso, Paolo & Ponte Marques, Aurea, 2019. "Impact of higher capital buffers on banks’ lending and risk-taking: evidence from the euro area experiments," Working Paper Series 2292, European Central Bank.
    11. repec:wly:quante:v:9:y:2018:i:2:p:1019-1051 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Mireia Borrell-Porta, 2015. "Do family values shape the pace of return to work after childbirth?," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 96, European Institute, LSE.
    13. Solé-Ollé, Albert & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2013. "Do political parties matter for local land use policies?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 42-56.

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