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Identification of causal effects on binary outcomes using structural mean models


  • Paul S. Clarke

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Frank Windmeijer

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Bristol)


Structural mean models (SMMs) were originally formulated to estimate causal effects among those selecting treatment in randomised controlled trials affected by non-ignorable non-compliance. It has already been established that SMM estimators identify these causal effects in randomised placebo-controlled trials where no-one assigned to the control group can receive the treatment. However, SMMs are starting to be used for randomised controlled trials without placebo-controls, and for instrumental variable analysis of observational studies; for example, Mendelian randomisation studies, and studies where physicians select patients' treatments. In such scenarios, identification depends on the assumption of no effect modification, namely, the causal effect is equal for the subgroups defined by the instrument. We consider the nature of this assumption by showing how it depends crucially on the underlying causal model generating the data, which in applications is almost always unknown. If its no effect modification assumption does not hold then an SMM estimator does not estimate its associated causal effect. However, if treatment selection is monotonic we highlight that additive and multiplicative SMMs do identify local (or complier) causal effects, but that the double-logistic SMM estimator does not without further assumptions. We clarify the proper interpretation of inferences from SMM estimators using a data example and simulation study.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul S. Clarke & Frank Windmeijer, 2010. "Identification of causal effects on binary outcomes using structural mean models," CeMMAP working papers CWP02/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:02/10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Robins & Andrea Rotnitzky, 2004. "Estimation of treatment effects in randomised trials with non-compliance and a dichotomous outcome using structural mean models," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 91(4), pages 763-783, December.
    2. Angrist, Joshua D, 2001. "Estimations of Limited Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 2-16, January.
    3. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    4. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
    5. Paul S. Clarke & Frank Windmeijer, 2012. "Instrumental Variable Estimators for Binary Outcomes," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 107(500), pages 1638-1652, December.
    6. Moodie, Erica E. M. & Platt, Robert W. & Kramer, Michael S., 2009. "Estimating Response-Maximized Decision Rules With Applications to Breastfeeding," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 104(485), pages 155-165.
    7. S. Vansteelandt & E. Goetghebeur, 2003. "Causal inference with generalized structural mean models," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 65(4), pages 817-835.
    8. Mark J. van der Laan & Alan Hubbard & Nicholas P. Jewell, 2007. "Estimation of treatment effects in randomized trials with non-compliance and a dichotomous outcome," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 69(3), pages 463-482.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:jorssa:v:180:y:2017:i:2:p:569-586 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Paul S. Clarke & Tom M. Palmer & Frank Windmeijer, 2011. "Estimating structural mean models with multiple instrumental variables using the generalised method of moments," CeMMAP working papers CWP28/11, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Masataka Taguri & Yutaka Matsuyama & Yasuo Ohashi, 2014. "Model selection criterion for causal parameters in structural mean models based on a quasi-likelihood," Biometrics, The International Biometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 721-730, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General


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