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

Bayesian inference in a correlated random coefficients model: Modeling causal effect heterogeneity with an application to heterogeneous returns to schooling

  • Li, Mingliang
  • Tobias, Justin L.
Registered author(s):

    We consider the problem of causal effect heterogeneity from a Bayesian point of view. This is accomplished by introducing a three-equation system, similar in spirit to the work of Heckman and Vytlacil (1998), describing the joint determination of a scalar outcome, an endogenous "treatment" variable, and an individual-specific causal return to that treatment. We describe a Bayesian posterior simulator for fitting this model which recovers far more than the average causal effect in the population, the object which has been the focus of most previous work. Parameter identification and generalized methods for flexibly modeling the outcome and return heterogeneity distributions are also discussed. Combining data sets from High School and Beyond (HSB) and the 1980 Census, we illustrate our methods in practice and investigate heterogeneity in returns to education. Our analysis decomposes the impact of key HSB covariates on log wages into three parts: a "direct" effect and two separate indirect effects through educational attainment and returns to education. Our results strongly suggest that the quantity of schooling attained is determined, at least in part, by the individual's own return to education. Specifically, a one percentage point increase in the return to schooling parameter is associated with the receipt of (approximately)Â 0.14 more years of schooling. Furthermore, when we control for variation in returns to education across individuals, we find no difference in predicted schooling levels for men and women. However, women are predicted to attain approximately 1/4 of a year more schooling than men on average as a result of higher rates of return to investments in education.

    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: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Econometrics.

    Volume (Year): 162 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 345-361

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:162:y:2011:i:2:p:345-361
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    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. Geweke, John, 2007. "Interpretation and inference in mixture models: Simple MCMC works," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 3529-3550, April.
    2. John F. Geweke, 1998. "Using simulation methods for Bayesian econometric models: inference, development, and communication," Staff Report 249, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    3. Grogger, Jeff, 1996. "Does School Quality Explain the Recent Black/White Wage Trend?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 231-53, April.
    4. Koop,Gary & Poirier,Dale J. & Tobias,Justin L., 2007. "Bayesian Econometric Methods," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671736, October.
    5. Koop, Gary & Poirier, Dale J., 1997. "Learning about the across-regime correlation in switching regression models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 217-227, June.
    6. John Geweke, 2004. "Getting It Right: Joint Distribution Tests of Posterior Simulators," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 799-804, January.
    7. Frank Kleibergen & Eric Zivot, 2003. "Bayesian and Classical Approaches to Instrumental Variable Regression," Working Papers UWEC-2002-21-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    8. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2003. "Further results on instrumental variables estimation of average treatment effects in the correlated random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 185-191, May.
    10. Koop, Gary M & Tobias, Justin, 2004. "Learning About Heterogeneity in Returns to Schooling," Staff General Research Papers 12008, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    11. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
    12. Poirier, D.J. & Tobias, J.L., 2001. "On the Predictive Distributions of Outcome Gains in the Presence of an Unidentified Parameter," Papers 00-01-30, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
    13. Murat K. Munkin & Partha Deb & Pravin K. Trivedi, 2006. "Bayesian analysis of the two-part model with endogeneity: application to health care expenditure," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 1081-1099.
    14. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Instrumental Variables Methods for the Correlated Random Coefficient Model: Estimating the Average Rate of Return to Schooling When the Return is Correlated with Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 974-987.
    15. Ganderton, Philip T., 1992. "The effect of subsidies in kind on the choice of a college," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 269-292, August.
    16. Henderson, Daniel J. & Polachek, Solomon W. & Wang, Le, 2011. "Heterogeneity in schooling rates of return," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1202-1214.
    17. Philippe Robert-Demontrond & R. Ringoot, 2004. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00081823, HAL.
    18. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 11259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Munkin, Murat K. & Trivedi, Pravin K., 2003. "Bayesian analysis of a self-selection model with multiple outcomes using simulation-based estimation: an application to the demand for healthcare," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 197-220, June.
    20. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
    21. Chib, Siddhartha & Hamilton, Barton H., 2002. "Semiparametric Bayes analysis of longitudinal data treatment models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 67-89, September.
    22. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Mingliang Li & Dale J. Poirier & Justin L. Tobias, 2004. "Do dropouts suffer from dropping out? Estimation and prediction of outcome gains in generalized selection models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(2), pages 203-225.
    25. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1997. "On two stage least squares estimation of the average treatment effect in a random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 129-133, October.
    26. Conley, Timothy G. & Hansen, Christian B. & McCulloch, Robert E. & Rossi, Peter E., 2008. "A semi-parametric Bayesian approach to the instrumental variable problem," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 276-305, May.
    27. Eric A. Hanushek & Lori L. Taylor, 1990. "Alternative Assessments of the Performance of Schools: Measurement of State Variations in Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(2), pages 179-201.
    28. Kai, Li, 1998. "Bayesian inference in a simultaneous equation model with limited dependent variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 387-400, August.
    29. Hoogerheide, Lennart & Kleibergen, Frank & van Dijk, Herman K., 2007. "Natural conjugate priors for the instrumental variables regression model applied to the Angrist-Krueger data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 63-103, May.
    30. Chib, Siddhartha & Hamilton, Barton H., 2000. "Bayesian analysis of cross-section and clustered data treatment models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 25-50, July.
    31. Grogger, Jeff, 1996. "School Expenditures and Post-schooling Earnings: Evidence from High School and Beyond," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 628-37, November.
    32. Geweke, John & Keane, Michael, 2007. "Smoothly mixing regressions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 252-290, May.
    33. Mingliang Li, 2006. "High school completion and future youth unemployment: new evidence from High School and Beyond," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 23-53.
    34. Mingliang Li, 2007. "Bayesian Proportional Hazard Analysis of the Timing of High School Dropout Decisions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(5), pages 529-556.
    35. Chib, Siddhartha, 2007. "Analysis of treatment response data without the joint distribution of potential outcomes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 401-412, October.
    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:eee:econom:v:162:y:2011:i:2:p:345-361. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

    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.