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Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice

  • Guido Imbens
  • Thomas Lemieux

In Regression Discontinuity (RD) designs for evaluating causal effects of interventions, assignment to a treatment is determined at least partly by the value of an observed covariate lying on either side of a fixed threshold. These designs were first introduced in the evaluation literature by Thistlewaite and Campbell (1960). With the exception of a few unpublished theoretical papers, these methods did not attract much attention in the economics literature until recently. Starting in the late 1990s, there has been a large number of studies in economics applying and extending RD methods. In this paper we review some of the practical and theoretical issues involved in the implementation of RD methods.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0337.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Publication status: published as Imbens, Guido and Thomas Lemieux. “Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice.” Journal of Econometrics 142, 2 (2008): 615-635.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0337
Note: TWP
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  1. Jeffrey Racine, 2008. "Nonparametric econometrics: a primer (in Russian)," Quantile, Quantile, issue 4, pages 7-56, March.
  2. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208, 02.
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  4. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Guido Imbens & Jeffrey Wooldridge, 2008. "Recent developments in the econometrics of program evaluation," CeMMAP working papers CWP24/08, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
  7. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Jesse Rothstein, 2006. "Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation in Neighborhoods and Schools," Working Papers 894, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  12. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2004. "The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization and Health: Evidence from Medicare," NBER Working Papers 10365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Matsudaira, Jordan D., 2008. "Mandatory summer school and student achievement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 829-850, February.
  14. Sandra E. Black, 1997. "Do better schools matter? Parental valuation of elementary education," Research Paper 9729, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  15. 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.
  16. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  17. Milligan, Kevin & Lemieux, Thomas, 2006. "Incentive Effects of Social Assistance: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006280e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  18. Battistin, Erich & Rettore, Enrico, 2008. "Ineligibles and eligible non-participants as a double comparison group in regression-discontinuity designs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 715-730, February.
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  24. Imbens, Guido & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 1995. "Evaluating the Cost of Conscription in The Netherlands," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 207-15, April.
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  29. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2005. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 376-424, April.
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