Minimax regret treatment choice with covariates or with limited validity of experiments
This paper continues the investigation of minimax regret treatment choice initiated by Manski (2004). Consider a decision maker who must assign treatment to future subjects after observing outcomes experienced in a sample. A certain scoring rule is known to achieve minimax regret in simple versions of this decision problem. I investigate its sensitivity to perturbations of the decision environment in realistic directions. They are as follows. (i) Treatment outcomes may be influenced by a covariate whose effect on outcome distributions is bounded (in one of numerous probability metrics). This is interesting because introduction of a covariate with unrestricted effects leads to a pathological result. (ii) The experiment may have limited validity because of selective noncompliance or because the sampling universe is a potentially selective subset of the treatment population. Thus, even large samples may generate misleading signals. These problems are formalized via a “bounds” approach that turns the problem into one of partial identification.
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