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RNN-based counterfactual prediction, with an application to homestead policy and public schooling

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  • Jason Poulos
  • Shuxi Zeng

Abstract

This paper proposes a method for estimating the effect of a policy intervention on an outcome over time. We train recurrent neural networks (RNNs) on the history of control unit outcomes to learn a useful representation for predicting future outcomes. The learned representation of control units is then applied to the treated units for predicting counterfactual outcomes. RNNs are specifically structured to exploit temporal dependencies in panel data, and are able to learn negative and nonlinear interactions between control unit outcomes. We apply the method to the problem of estimating the long-run impact of U.S. homestead policy on public school spending.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Poulos & Shuxi Zeng, 2017. "RNN-based counterfactual prediction, with an application to homestead policy and public schooling," Papers 1712.03553, arXiv.org, revised Sep 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1712.03553
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    5. 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.
    6. Kaul, Ashok & Klößner, Stefan & Pfeifer, Gregor & Schieler, Manuel, 2015. "Synthetic Control Methods: Never Use All Pre-Intervention Outcomes Together With Covariates," MPRA Paper 83790, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    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.
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