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Comparing IV With Structural Models: What Simple IV Can and Cannot Identify

  • James J. Heckman
  • Sergio Urzua

This paper compares the economic questions addressed by instrumental variables estimators with those addressed by structural approaches. We discuss Marschak's Maxim: estimators should be selected on the basis of their ability to answer well-posed economic problems with minimal assumptions. A key identifying assumption that allows structural methods to be more informative than IV can be tested with data and does not have to be imposed.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14706.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14706.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Publication status: published as Heckman, James J. & Urzúa, Sergio, 2010. "Comparing IV with structural models: What simple IV can and cannot identify," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 27-37, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14706
Note: TWP
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  1. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 191-261, April.
  2. Heckman, James J. & Schmierer, Daniel & Urzua, Sergio, 2009. "Testing the Correlated Random Coefficient Model," IZA Discussion Papers 4525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Heckman, James J. & Urzua, Sergio & Vytlacil, Edward, 2008. "Instrumental Variables in Models with Multiple Outcomes: The General Unordered Case," IZA Discussion Papers 3565, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2007. "The Identification and Economic Content of Ordered Choice Models with Stochastic Thresholds," NBER Technical Working Papers 0340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  7. Heckman, James J., 2008. "Econometric Causality," IZA Discussion Papers 3425, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. John M. Barron & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 2006. "Selective Counteroffers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 385-410, July.
  9. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten & Heckman, James, 2003. "Estimating distributions of treatment effects with an application to the returns to schooling and measurement of the effects of uncertainty on college choice," Working Paper Series 2003:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  10. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2007. "Dynamic discrete choice and dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 341-396, February.
  11. James J. Heckman & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part II: Using the Marginal Treatment Effect to Organize Alternative Econometric Estimators to Evaluate Social Programs, and to Forecast their Effects in New," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 71 Elsevier.
  12. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 11259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Matzkin, Rosa L., 2007. "Nonparametric identification," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 73 Elsevier.
  15. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine & Pedro L. Rodriguez, 2008. "Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out," Working Papers 200829, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  16. Heckman, James J. & Urzua, Sergio & Vytlacil, Edward, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 2320, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Sergio Urzúa, 2008. "Racial Labor Market Gaps: The Role of Abilities and Schooling Choices," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  18. Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
  19. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman, 2007. "The Evolution of Inequality, Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Labor Earnings in the U.S. Economy," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-032, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  20. 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.
  21. Matzkin, Rosa L, 1992. "Nonparametric and Distribution-Free Estimation of the Binary Threshold Crossing and the Binary Choice Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 239-70, March.
  22. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  23. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  25. James J. Heckman & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part I: Causal Models, Structural Models and Econometric Policy Evaluation," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 70 Elsevier.
  26. Matzkin, Rosa L., 1986. "Restrictions of economic theory in nonparametric methods," Handbook of Econometrics, in: R. F. Engle & D. McFadden (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 42, pages 2523-2558 Elsevier.
  27. Matzkin, Rosa L., 1993. "Nonparametric identification and estimation of polychotomous choice models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 137-168, July.
  28. Abbring, Jaap H. & Heckman, James J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part III: Distributional Treatment Effects, Dynamic Treatment Effects, Dynamic Discrete Choice, and General Equilibrium Policy Evaluation," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 72 Elsevier.
  29. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
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