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Average Causal Response with Variable Treatment Intensity

  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • Guido W. Imbens

In evaluation research, an average causal effect is usually defined as the expected difference between the outcomes of the treated, and what these outcomes would have been in the absence of treatment. This definition of causal effects makes sense for binary treatments only. In this paper, we extend the definition of average causal effects to the case of variable treatments such as drug dosage, hours of exam preparation, cigarette smoking, and years of schooling. We show that given mild regularity assumptions, instrumental variables independence assumptions identify a weighted average of per-unit causal effects along the length of an appropriately defined causal response function. Conventional instrumental variables and Two-Stage Least Squares procedures can be interpreted as estimating the average causal response to a variable treatment.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/t0127.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0127.

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Date of creation: Jun 1995
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Publication status: published as Journal of the American Statistical Association, vol. 90, no. 430, pp. 431-442, (June 1995).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0127
Note: LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  2. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S7-36, October.
  3. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  4. K. Newey, Whitney, 1985. "Generalized method of moments specification testing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 229-256, September.
  5. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-18, May.
  6. Manski, C.F., 1990. "The Selection Problem," Working papers 90-12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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