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Sampling-based vs. Design-based Uncertainty in Regression Analysis

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Listed:
  • Alberto Abadie
  • Susan Athey
  • Guido W. Imbens
  • Jeffrey M. Wooldridge

Abstract

Consider a researcher estimating the parameters of a regression function based on data for all 50 states in the United States or on data for all visits to a website. What is the interpretation of the estimated parameters and the standard errors? In practice, researchers typically assume that the sample is randomly drawn from a large population of interest and report standard errors that are designed to capture sampling variation. This is common even in applications where it is difficult to articulate what that population of interest is, and how it differs from the sample. In this article, we explore an alternative approach to inference, which is partly design-based. In a design-based setting, the values of some of the regressors can be manipulated, perhaps through a policy intervention. Design-based uncertainty emanates from lack of knowledge about the values that the regression outcome would have taken under alternative interventions. We derive standard errors that account for design-based uncertainty instead of, or in addition to, sampling-based uncertainty. We show that our standard errors in general are smaller than the usual infinite-population sampling-based standard errors and provide conditions under which they coincide.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Abadie & Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2017. "Sampling-based vs. Design-based Uncertainty in Regression Analysis," Papers 1706.01778, arXiv.org, revised Jun 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1706.01778
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles F. Manski, 2013. "Response to the Review of ‘Public Policy in an Uncertain World’," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 412-415, August.
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    3. Davidson, James, 1994. "Stochastic Limit Theory: An Introduction for Econometricians," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774037.
    4. Samii, Cyrus & Aronow, Peter M., 2012. "On equivalencies between design-based and regression-based variance estimators for randomized experiments," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 365-370.
    5. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    6. Manski, Charles F., 2013. "Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decisions," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674066892, December.
    7. Alberto Abadie & Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2014. "Finite Population Causal Standard Errors," NBER Working Papers 20325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Imbens,Guido W. & Rubin,Donald B., 2015. "Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521885881.
    9. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588.
    10. MacKinnon, James G. & White, Halbert, 1985. "Some heteroskedasticity-consistent covariance matrix estimators with improved finite sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 305-325, September.
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    12. Joshua D. Angrist, 1998. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 249-288, March.
    13. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens & Fanyin Zheng, 2014. "Inference for Misspecified Models With Fixed Regressors," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 109(508), pages 1601-1614, December.
    14. White, Halbert, 1982. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Misspecified Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael P. Leung, 2019. "Causal Inference Under Approximate Neighborhood Interference," Papers 1911.07085, arXiv.org.
    2. James G. MacKinnon & Matthew D. Webb, 2019. "When and How to Deal with Clustered Errors in Regression Models," Working Paper 1421, Economics Department, Queen's University.
    3. James J. Heckman & Ganesh Karapakula, 2019. "The Perry Preschoolers at Late Midlife: A Study in Design-Specific Inference," Working Papers 2019-034, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    4. Ridley, Matthew & Terrier, Camille, 2018. "Fiscal and education spillovers from charter school expansion," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91700, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Athey, Susan & Imbens, Guido W., 2018. "Design-based Analysis in Difference-In-Differences Settings with Staggered Adoption," Research Papers 3712, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

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