IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/dem/wpaper/wp-2019-004.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A generalized counterfactual approach to decomposing differences between populations

Author

Listed:
  • Nikkil Sudharsanan
  • Maarten J. Bijlsma

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Abstract

One key objective of the population health sciences is to understand why one social group has different levels of health and well-being compared to another. While several methods have been developed in economics, sociology, demography, and epidemiology to answer these types of questions, a recent method introduced by Jackson and VanderWeele (2018) provided an update to decompositions by anchoring them within causal inference theory. In this paper, we demonstrate how to implement the causal decomposition using Monte Carlo integration and the parametric g-formula. Causal decomposition can help to identify the sources of differences across populations and provide researchers a way to move beyond estimating inequalities to explaining them and determining what can be done to reduce health disparities. Our implementation approach can easily and flexibly be applied for different types of outcome and explanatory variables without having to derive decomposition equations and can also decompose functions of outcomes, such as period life expectancy, that are not based around a simple comparison of means or proportions. We describe the concepts of the approach and the practical steps and considerations needed to implement it. We then walk through a worked example where we investigate the contribution of smoking to sex differences in mortality in South Korea using two different outcomes and contrasts: the age-adjusted mortality risk ratio and the absolute difference in period life expectancy. For both examples, we provide both pseudocode and R code using our package, cfdecomp. Ultimately, we outline how to implement a very general decomposition algorithm that is grounded in counterfactual theory but still easy to apply to a wide range of situations.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikkil Sudharsanan & Maarten J. Bijlsma, 2019. "A generalized counterfactual approach to decomposing differences between populations," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2019-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2019-004
    DOI: 10.4054/MPIDR-WP-2019-004
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, June.
    2. Prithwis Gupta, 1978. "A general method of decomposing a difference between two rates into several components," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 15(1), pages 99-112, February.
    3. Shiro Horiuchi & John Wilmoth & Scott Pletcher, 2008. "A decomposition method based on a model of continuous change," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(4), pages 785-801, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    methods of analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:dem:wpaper:wp-2019-004. 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: (Peter Wilhelm). General contact details of provider: https://www.demogr.mpg.de/ .

    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.