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Matching on the Estimated Propensity Score

Author

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  • Alberto Abadie
  • Guido W. Imbens

Abstract

Propensity score matching estimators (Rosenbaum and Rubin (1983)) are widely used in evaluation research to estimate average treatment effects. In this article, we derive the large sample distribution of propensity score matching estimators. Our derivations take into account that the propensity score is itself estimated in a first step, prior to matching. We prove that first step estimation of the propensity score affects the large sample distribution of propensity score matching estimators, and derive adjustments to the large sample variances of propensity score matching estimators of the average treatment effect (ATE) and the average treatment effect on the treated (ATET). The adjustment for the ATE estimator is negative (or zero in some special cases), implying that matching on the estimated propensity score is more efficient than matching on the true propensity score in large samples. However, for the ATET estimator, the sign of the adjustment term depends on the data generating process, and ignoring the estimation error in the propensity score may lead to confidence intervals that are either too large or too small.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2016. "Matching on the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 781-807, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:emetrp:v:84:y:2016:i::p:781-807
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andreou, E. & Werker, B.J.M., 2004. "An Alternative Asymptotic Analysis of Residual-Based Statistics," Discussion Paper 2004-56, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2003. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1161-1189, July.
    3. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2008. "On the Failure of the Bootstrap for Matching Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1537-1557, November.
    4. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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