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How do we know we need to control for selectivity?

  • FFF1Susan NNN1Watkins

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • FFF2Ina NNN2Warriner

    (World Health Organization)

Registered author(s):

    In the previous two decades there has been considerable progress in recognizing biases due to selectivity that are associated with the use of observational data to make causal inferences and in developing models to control for these biases statistically. Often there is a difference between estimates produced by models that attempt to control for selectivity and those that do not. Since a difference alone does not persuasively argue for one model over another, analysts typically rely on their a priori expectations of selectivity based on theory or intuition. Here we suggest that the analyst’s judgement about the appropriate analytical model may be informed by simple descriptive statistics and qualitative data. We use data on social networks collected in rural Kenya, since the analysis of networks is likely to raise questions of selectivity, and simple examples. Although we do not provide general rules for assessing when models that control for selectivity should be used, we conclude by recommending that analysts inform their judgement rather than rely on theory and intuition to justify controlling for selectivity. Although our data are particular, the implications of our approach are general, since a priori evaluations of the credibility of assumptions on which analytic models are based can be made in other settings and for other research questions.

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    File URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/special/1/4/s1-4.pdf
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    Article provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its journal Demographic Research Special Collections.

    Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 4 (September)
    Pages: 109-142

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    Handle: RePEc:dem:drspec:v:1:y:2003:i:4
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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    1. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere R. Behrman & Susan Watkins, 2000. "Empirical Assessments of Social Networks, Fertility and Family Planning Programs," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(7), September.
    2. Christiaensen, Luc J. M. & Hoddinott, John & Bergeron, Gilles, 2000. "Comparing village characteristics derived from rapid appraisals and household surveys," FCND briefs 91, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Manski, C.F. & Nagin, D.S., 1996. "Bounding Disagreements About Treatment Effects: A Case Study of Sentencing and Recidivism," Working papers 9526r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    4. Susan E. Short & Feinian Chen & Barbara Entwisle & Zhai Fengying, 2002. "Maternal Work and Child Care in China: A Multi-Method Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(1), pages 31-57.
    5. Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & Susan Watkins, 2002. "Social networks and changes in contraceptive use over time: Evidence from a longitudinal study in rural Kenya," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 713-738, November.
    6. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere R. Behrman & Susan Cotts Watkins, 1999. "The structure of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from S. Nyanza District, Kenya," MPIDR Working Papers WP-1999-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    7. Alderman, Harold & Watkins, Susan Cotts & Kohler, Hans-Peter & Maluccio, John A. & Behrman, Jere R., 2000. "Attrition in longitudinal household survey data," FCND briefs 96, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Valente, Thomas W. & Watkins, Susan C. & Jato, Miriam N. & Van Der Straten, Ariane & Tsitsol, Louis-Philippe M., 1997. "Social network associations with contraceptive use among Cameroonian women in voluntary associations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(5), pages 677-687, September.
    9. Brock, William A & Durlauf, Steven N, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 235-60, April.
    10. repec:att:wimass:9217 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. FFF1Christoph NNN1Bühler & FFF2Hans-Peter NNN2Kohler, 2003. "Talking about AIDS," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(13), pages 397-438, September.
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