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On the Properties of the Synthetic Control Estimator with Many Periods and Many Controls

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  • Bruno Ferman

Abstract

We consider the asymptotic properties of the synthetic control (SC) estimator when both the number of pretreatment periods and control units are large. If potential outcomes follow a linear factor model, we provide conditions under which the SC unit asymptotically recovers the factor structure of the treated unit, even when the pretreatment fit is imperfect. This happens when there are weights diluted among an increasing number of control units such that a weighted average of the factor structure of the control units asymptotically reconstructs the factor structure of the treated unit. In this case, the SC estimator is asymptotically unbiased even when treatment assignment is correlated with time-varying unobservables. Supplementary materials for this article, including a standardized description of the materials available for reproducing the work, are available as an online supplement.

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  • Bruno Ferman, 2021. "On the Properties of the Synthetic Control Estimator with Many Periods and Many Controls," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 116(536), pages 1764-1772, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jnlasa:v:116:y:2021:i:536:p:1764-1772
    DOI: 10.1080/01621459.2021.1965613
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    1. Laurent Gobillon & Thierry Magnac, 2016. "Regional Policy Evaluation: Interactive Fixed Effects and Synthetic Controls," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 535-551, July.
    2. Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens, 2017. "The State of Applied Econometrics: Causality and Policy Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 3-32, Spring.
    3. Laurent Gobillon & Thierry Magnac, 2016. "Regional Policy Evaluation: Interactive Fixed Effects and Synthetic Controls," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 535-551, July.
    4. Irene Botosaru & Bruno Ferman, 2019. "On the role of covariates in the synthetic control method," The Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 22(2), pages 117-130.
    5. Victor Chernozhukov & Kaspar Wüthrich & Yinchu Zhu, 2021. "An Exact and Robust Conformal Inference Method for Counterfactual and Synthetic Controls," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 116(536), pages 1849-1864, October.
    6. Alberto Abadie & Alexis Diamond & Jens Hainmueller, 2015. "Comparative Politics and the Synthetic Control Method," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 59(2), pages 495-510, February.
    7. Alberto Abadie & Javier Gardeazabal, 2003. "The Economic Costs of Conflict: A Case Study of the Basque Country," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 113-132, March.
    8. Nikolay Doudchenko & Guido W. Imbens, 2016. "Balancing, Regression, Difference-In-Differences and Synthetic Control Methods: A Synthesis," NBER Working Papers 22791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Carvalho, Carlos & Masini, Ricardo & Medeiros, Marcelo C., 2018. "ArCo: An artificial counterfactual approach for high-dimensional panel time-series data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 207(2), pages 352-380.
    10. Xu, Yiqing, 2017. "Generalized Synthetic Control Method: Causal Inference with Interactive Fixed Effects Models," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 57-76, January.
    11. Jushan Bai, 2009. "Panel Data Models With Interactive Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1229-1279, July.
    12. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
    13. Laurent Gobillon & Thierry Magnac, 2016. "Regional Policy Evaluation: Interactive Fixed Effects and Synthetic Controls," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 535-551, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ignacio Martinez & Jaume Vives-i-Bastida, 2022. "Bayesian and Frequentist Inference for Synthetic Controls," Papers 2206.01779, arXiv.org.
    2. Ferman, Bruno, 2021. "Matching estimators with few treated and many control observations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 225(2), pages 295-307.
    3. Alberto Abadie & Jinglong Zhao, 2021. "Synthetic Controls for Experimental Design," Papers 2108.02196, arXiv.org.
    4. Alberto Abadie & Jaume Vives-i-Bastida, 2022. "Synthetic Controls in Action," Papers 2203.06279, arXiv.org.
    5. Guido Imbens & Nathan Kallus & Xiaojie Mao, 2021. "Controlling for Unmeasured Confounding in Panel Data Using Minimal Bridge Functions: From Two-Way Fixed Effects to Factor Models," Papers 2108.03849, arXiv.org.
    6. Bruno Ferman & Cristine Pinto, 2021. "Synthetic controls with imperfect pretreatment fit," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 12(4), pages 1197-1221, November.

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