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Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation

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  • James J. Heckman
  • Edward Vytlacil

Abstract

This paper uses the marginal treatment effect (MTE) to unify the nonparametric literature on treatment effects with the econometric literature on structural estimation using a nonparametric analog of a policy invariant parameter; to generate a variety of treatment effects from a common semiparametric functional form; to organize the literature on alternative estimators; and to explore what policy questions commonly used estimators in the treatment effect literature answer. A fundamental asymmetry intrinsic to the method of instrumental variables is noted. Recent advances in IV estimation allow for heterogeneity in responses but not in choices, and the method breaks down when both choice and response equations are heterogeneous in a general way.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0306
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
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    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General

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