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Running and Jumping Variables in RD Designs: Evidence Based on Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Birth Weights

Author

Listed:
  • Barreca, Alan I.

    () (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Guldi, Melanie

    () (University of Central Florida)

  • Lindo, Jason M.

    () (Texas A&M University)

  • Waddell, Glen R.

    () (University of Oregon)

Abstract

Throughout the years spanned by the U.S. Vital Statistics Linked Birth and Infant Death Data (1983-2002), birth weights are measured most precisely for children of white and highly educated mothers. As a result, less healthy children, who are more likely to be of low socioeconomic status, are disproportionately represented at multiples of round numbers. This has crucial implications for any study using a regression discontinuity design in which birth weights are used as the running variable. For example, estimates will be biased in a manner that leads one to conclude that it is “good” to be strictly to the left of any 100-gram cutoff. As such, prior estimates of the effects of very low birth weight classification (Almond, Doyle, Kowalski, and Williams 2010) have been overstated and appear to be zero. This analysis highlights a more general problem that can afflict regression discontinuity designs. In cases where attributes related to the outcomes of interest predict heaping in the running variable, estimated effects are likely to be biased. We discuss approaches to diagnosing and correcting for this type of problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Barreca, Alan I. & Guldi, Melanie & Lindo, Jason M. & Waddell, Glen R., 2010. "Running and Jumping Variables in RD Designs: Evidence Based on Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Birth Weights," IZA Discussion Papers 5106, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5106
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David V. Budescu & Boris Maciejovsky, 2004. "The Effect of Monetary Feedback and Information Spillovers on Cognitive Errors: Evidence from Competitive Markets," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-32, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Bongkyun & Carruthers, Celeste K. & Harris, Matthew C., 2017. "Maternal stress and birth outcomes: Evidence from the 1994 Northridge earthquake," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 354-373.
    2. Yingying Dong, 2012. "Regression Discontinuity Applications with Rounding Errors in the Running Variable," Working Papers 111206, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    regression discontinuity; donut RD; birth weight; infant mortality;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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