IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sample Selection Bias As a Specification Error (with an Application to the Estimation of Labor Supply Functions)


  • James J. Heckman


In this paper, I present a simple characterization of the sample selection bias problem that is also applicable to the conceptually distinct econometric problems that arise from truncated samples and from models with limited dependent variables. The problem of sample selection bias is fit within the conventional specification error framework of Griliches and Theil. A simple estimator is discussed that enables analysts to utilize ordinary regression methods to estimate models free of selection bias. The techniques discussed here are applied to re-estimate and test a model of female labor supply developed by the author. (1974). This paper is in three parts. In the first section, selection bias is presented within the specification error framework. In this section, general distributional assumptions are maintained. In section two, specific results are presented for the case of normal regression disturbances. Simple estimators are proposed and discussed. In the third section, empirical results are presented.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman, 1977. "Sample Selection Bias As a Specification Error (with an Application to the Estimation of Labor Supply Functions)," NBER Working Papers 0172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0172

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-844, September.
    2. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1974. "Multivariate Regression and Simultaneous Equation Models when the Dependent Variables Are Truncated Normal," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(6), pages 999-1012, November.
    3. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 11-26, Part II, .
    4. Reuben Gronau, 1974. "The Effect of Children on the Housewife's Value of Time," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 457-490 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-694, July.
    6. Rosen, Harvey S, 1976. "Taxes in a Labor Supply Model with Joint Wage-Hours Determination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(3), pages 485-507, May.
    7. Lewis, H Gregg, 1974. "Comments on Selectivity Biases in Wage Comparisons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1145-1155, Nov.-Dec..
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:nbr:nberch:14021 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Littell, Julia H., 1997. "Effects of the duration, intensity, and breadth of family preservation services: A new analysis of data from the illinois family first experiment," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 17-39.
    3. Giovanni Dosi & Emanuele Pugliese & Pietro Santoleri, 2017. "Growth and survival of the `fitter'? Evidence from US new-born firms," LEM Papers Series 2017/06, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    4. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    5. Karolina Goraus & Joanna Tyrowicz, 2014. "Gender Wage Gap in Poland – Can It Be Explained by Differences in Observable Characteristics?," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 36.
    6. Borenstein, Severin & Netz, Janet, 1999. "Why do all the flights leave at 8 am?: Competition and departure-time differentiation in airline markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 611-640, July.
    7. Meyer, Kevin & Keiser, David A., 2016. "Adapting to Climate Change Through Tile Drainage: A Structural Ricardian Analysis," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235932, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    8. Ali, Shehzad & Cookson, Richard & Dusheiko, Mark, 2017. "Addressing care-seeking as well as insurance-seeking selection biases in estimating the impact of health insurance on out-of-pocket expenditure," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 127-140.
    9. Ioannis Branikas & Harrison Hong & Jiangmin Xu, 2017. "Location Choice, Portfolio Choice," NBER Working Papers 23040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bailey, Rachel & Hartarska, Valentina, 2017. "Women's Property Rights and Outreach of Microfinance Institutions Targeting Women," 2017 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2017, Mobile, Alabama 253159, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0172. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.