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Addressing Bias in Politician Characteristic Regression Discontinuity Designs


  • Torres, Santiago

    (Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía)


Politician characteristic regression discontinuity (PCRD) designs are a popular strategy when attempting to casually link a specific trait of an elected politician with a given outcome. However, recent research has revealed that this methodology often fails to retrieve the target causal effect¿a problem also known as the PCRD estimation bias. In this paper, I provide a new econometric framework to address this limitation in applied research. First, I propose a covariate-adjusted local polynomial estimator that corrects for the PCRD estimation bias provided all relevant confounders are observed. I then leverage the statistical properties of this estimator to propose several decompositions of the bias term and discuss their potential applications. Next, I devise a strategy to assess the robustness of the new estimator to omitted confounders that could potentially invalidate results. Finally, I illustrate these methods through an application: a PCRD aimed at evaluating the impact of female leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Torres, Santiago, 2023. "Addressing Bias in Politician Characteristic Regression Discontinuity Designs," Documentos CEDE 20304, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:020304

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sebastian Calonico & Matias D. Cattaneo & Rocio Titiunik, 2014. "Robust Nonparametric Confidence Intervals for Regression‐Discontinuity Designs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2295-2326, November.
    2. Matias D. Cattaneo & Rocío Titiunik, 2022. "Regression Discontinuity Designs," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 14(1), pages 821-851, August.
    3. Sebastian Calonico & Matias D. Cattaneo & Rocío Titiunik, 2015. "Optimal Data-Driven Regression Discontinuity Plots," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 110(512), pages 1753-1769, December.
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    More about this item


    Regression discontinuity designs; Close elections; Bias correction; Sensitivity analysis.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • P00 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - General - - - General

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