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Matching the gold standard: Comparing experimental and non-experimental evaluation techniques for a geographically targeted program

  • Sudhanshu Handa
  • John Maluccio

    ()

We compare non-experimental impact estimates based on matching methods with those from a randomized evaluation to determine whether the non-experimental approach can “match” the so-called gold standard. The social experiment we use was carried out to evaluate a geographically targeted conditional cash transfer antipoverty program in Nicaragua. The outcomes we assess include several components of household expenditure and a variety of children’s health outcomes including breast feeding, vaccinations, and morbidity. We find that using each of the following improves performance of matching for these outcomes: 1) geographically proximate comparison samples; 2) stringent common support requirements; and 3) both geographic- and household-level matching variables. Even for a geographically targeted program, in which the selection is at the geographic-, rather than at the individual- or household-level, and in which it is not possible to find comparison individuals or households in the program locales, matching can perform reasonably well. The results also suggest that the techniques may be more promising for evaluating the more easily measured individual-level binary outcomes, than for outcomes that are more difficult to measure, such as expenditure.

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File URL: http://www.middlebury.edu/services/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/0813.pdf
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Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0813.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0813
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  1. de Brauw, Alan & Hoddinott, John, 2008. "Must conditional cash transfer programs be conditioned to be effective?: The impact of conditioning transfers on school enrollment in Mexico," IFPRI discussion papers 757, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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  5. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2003. "Using Matching, Instrumental Variables and Control Functions to Estimate Economic Choice Models," IZA Discussion Papers 768, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Gilligan, Daniel O. & Hoddinott, John, 2006. "Is there persistence in the impact of emergency food aid? Evidence on consumption, food security, and assets in rural Ethiopia," FCND discussion papers 209, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  7. Crump, Richard K. & Hotz, V. Joseph & Imbens, Guido W. & Mitnik, Oscar A., 2006. "Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand," IZA Discussion Papers 2347, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Imbens, Guido W. & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2008. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 3640, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Maluccio, John A. & Flores, Rafael, 2005. "Impact evaluation of a conditional cash transfer program: the Nicaraguan Red de Protección Social," Research reports 141, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  10. Friedlander, Daniel & Robins, Philip K, 1995. "Evaluating Program Evaluations: New Evidence on Commonly Used Nonexperimental Methods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 923-37, September.
  11. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," NBER Working Papers 6699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 2003. "Does Matching Overcome Lalonde's Critique of Nonexperimental Estimators?," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20035, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  13. Alberto Abadie & David Drukker & Jane Leber Herr & Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Implementing matching estimators for average treatment effects in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 290-311, September.
  14. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Estimating the Benefit Incidence of an Antipoverty Program by Propensity-Score Matching," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(1), pages 19-30, January.
  15. Menno Pradhan & Laura B. Rawlings, 2002. "The Impact and Targeting of Social Infrastructure Investments: Lessons from the Nicaraguan Social Fund," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(2), pages 275-295, August.
  16. McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2006. "How important is selection ? Experimental versus non-experimental measures of the income gains from migration," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3906, The World Bank.
  17. 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.
  18. Charles Michalopoulos & Howard S. Bloom & Carolyn J. Hill, 2004. "Can Propensity-Score Methods Match the Findings from a Random Assignment Evaluation of Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 156-179, February.
  19. John A. Maluccio, 2009. "Household targeting in practice: The Nicaraguan Red de Protección Social," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
  20. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, 01.
  21. Barham, Tania & Maluccio, John A., 2009. "Eradicating diseases: The effect of conditional cash transfers on vaccination coverage in rural Nicaragua," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 611-621, May.
  22. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
  23. Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "An Evaluation of the Swedish System of Active Labor Market Programs in the 1990s," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 133-155, February.
  24. Todd, Petra E., 2008. "Evaluating Social Programs with Endogenous Program Placement and Selection of the Treated," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
  25. David I. Levine & Gary Painter, 2003. "The Schooling Costs of Teenage Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing: Analysis with a Within-School Propensity-Score-Matching Estimator," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 884-900, November.
  26. Richard K. Crump & V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2006. "Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in the Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand," NBER Technical Working Papers 0330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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