IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/arx/papers/1809.09527.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Mostly Harmless Simulations? Using Monte Carlo Studies for Estimator Selection

Author

Listed:
  • Arun Advani
  • Toru Kitagawa
  • Tymon S{l}oczy'nski

Abstract

We consider two recent suggestions for how to perform an empirically motivated Monte Carlo study to help select a treatment effect estimator under unconfoundedness. We show theoretically that neither is likely to be informative except under restrictive conditions that are unlikely to be satisfied in many contexts. To test empirical relevance, we also apply the approaches to a real-world setting where estimator performance is known. Both approaches are worse than random at selecting estimators which minimise absolute bias. They are better when selecting estimators that minimise mean squared error. However, using a simple bootstrap is at least as good and often better. For now researchers would be best advised to use a range of estimators and compare estimates for robustness.

Suggested Citation

  • Arun Advani & Toru Kitagawa & Tymon S{l}oczy'nski, 2018. "Mostly Harmless Simulations? Using Monte Carlo Studies for Estimator Selection," Papers 1809.09527, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1809.09527
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1809.09527
    File Function: Latest version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Frölich, Markus & Huber, Martin & Wiesenfarth, Manuel, 2017. "The finite sample performance of semi- and non-parametric estimators for treatment effects and policy evaluation," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 91-102.
    2. Hansen, Christian B., 2007. "Generalized least squares inference in panel and multilevel models with serial correlation and fixed effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 670-694, October.
    3. Bodory, Hugo & Camponovo, Lorenzo & Huber, Martin & Lechner, Michael, 2016. "The Finite Sample Performance of Inference Methods for Propensity Score Matching and Weighting Estimators," IZA Discussion Papers 9706, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Juan Díaz & Tomás Rau & Jorge Rivera, 2015. "A Matching Estimator Based on a Bilevel Optimization Problem," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 803-812, October.
    5. Michael Lechner & Anthony Strittmatter, 2019. "Practical procedures to deal with common support problems in matching estimation," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(2), pages 193-207, February.
    6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    7. Martin Huber & Michael Lechner & Giovanni Mellace, 2016. "The Finite Sample Performance of Estimators for Mediation Analysis Under Sequential Conditional Independence," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 139-160, January.
    8. 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.
    9. Heckman, J.J. & Hotz, V.J., 1988. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods For Estimating The Impact Of Social Programs: The Case Of Manpower Training," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-12, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
    10. Bryan S. Graham & Cristine Campos De Xavier Pinto & Daniel Egel, 2012. "Inverse Probability Tilting for Moment Condition Models with Missing Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 1053-1079.
    11. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2007. "Inverse probability weighted estimation for general missing data problems," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 1281-1301, December.
    12. Zhong Zhao, 2004. "Using Matching to Estimate Treatment Effects: Data Requirements, Matching Metrics, and Monte Carlo Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 91-107, February.
    13. repec:wly:japmet:v:34:y:2019:i:6:p:893-910 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Arun Advani & Toru Kitagawa & Tymon Słoczyński, 2019. "Mostly harmless simulations? Using Monte Carlo studies for estimator selection," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(6), pages 893-910, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Lechner, Michael, 2018. "Modified Causal Forests for Estimating Heterogeneous Causal Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 12040, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Arun Advani & Toru Kitagawa & Tymon S{l}oczy'nski, 2018. "Mostly Harmless Simulations? Using Monte Carlo Studies for Estimator Selection," Papers 1809.09527, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2019.
    3. Susan Athey & Guido Imbens & Jonas Metzger & Evan Munro, 2019. "Using Wasserstein Generative Adversarial Networks for the Design of Monte Carlo Simulations," Papers 1909.02210, arXiv.org.
    4. repec:wly:japmet:v:34:y:2019:i:6:p:893-910 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1809.09527. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (arXiv administrators). General contact details of provider: http://arxiv.org/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.