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Evaluating Programmes: Experiments, Non-Experiments and Propensity Scores

Author

Listed:
  • Denis Conniffe

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Vanessa Gash

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Philip J.

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

Abstract

Evaluations of programmes ?for example, labour market interventions such as employment schemes and training courses- usually involve comparison of the performance of a treatment group (recipients of the programme) with a control group (non-recipients) as regards some response (gaining employment for example). But the idea of randomisation of individuals to groups is rarely possible in the social sciences and there may be substantial differences between groups in the distribution of individual characteristics than can affect response. Past practice in economics has been to try to use multiple regression models to adjust away the differences in observed characteristics, while also testing for sample selection bias. The Propensity Score approach, which is widely applied in epidemiology and related fields, focuses on the idea that ?matching? individuals in the groups should be compared. The appropriate matching measure is usually taken to be the prior probability of programme participation. This paper describes the key ideas of the Propensity Score method, compares it with the common approach in economics, reviews the arguments in the literature and illustrates application by reanalysis of some Irish data on training courses.

Suggested Citation

  • Denis Conniffe & Vanessa Gash & Philip J., 2000. "Evaluating Programmes: Experiments, Non-Experiments and Propensity Scores," Papers WP126, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp126
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    File URL: http://www.esri.ie/pubs/WP126.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-620, September.
    2. Newey, Whitney K & Powell, James L & Walker, James R, 1990. "Semiparametric Estimation of Selection Models: Some Empirical Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 324-328, May.
    3. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Nancy Clements, 1997. "Making The Most Out Of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting For Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535.
    4. Little, Roderick J A, 1985. "A Note about Models for Selectivity Bias," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1469-1474, November.
    5. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Horowitz, Joel L. & Manski, Charles F., 1998. "Censoring of outcomes and regressors due to survey nonresponse: Identification and estimation using weights and imputations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 37-58, May.
    7. Jinyong Hahn, 1998. "On the Role of the Propensity Score in Efficient Semiparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 315-332, March.
    8. 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.
    9. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    10. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
    11. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
    12. Guido W. Imbens & Donald B. Rubin, 1997. "Estimating Outcome Distributions for Compliers in Instrumental Variables Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 555-574.
    13. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra Todd, 1998. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 261-294.
    14. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "Conditioning on the Probability of Selection to Control Selection Bias," NBER Technical Working Papers 0181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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