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Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator

  • Guido Imbens
  • Karthik Kalyanaraman

We investigate the problem of optimal choice of the smoothing parameter (bandwidth) for the regression discontinuity estimator. We focus on estimation by local linear regression, which was shown to be rate optimal (Porter, 2003). Investigation of an expected-squared-error-loss criterion reveals the need for regularization. We propose an optimal, data dependent, bandwidth choice rule. We illustrate the proposed bandwidth choice using data previously analyzed by Lee (2008), as well as in a simulation study based on this data set. The simulations suggest that the proposed rule performs well.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14726.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14726.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Publication status: published as Review of Economic Studies (2011) doi: 10.1093/restud/rdr043 First published online: November 24, 2011
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14726
Note: LS TWP
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2005. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," NBER Working Papers 11702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Frandsen, Brigham R. & Frölich, Markus & Melly, Blaise, 2012. "Quantile treatment effects in the regression discontinuity design," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 168(2), pages 382-395.
  3. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  4. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  5. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2008. "Regression-Discontinuity Analysis: A Survey of Recent Developments in Economics," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 22(2), pages 219-245, 06.
  6. Cook, Thomas D., 2008. ""Waiting for Life to Arrive": A history of the regression-discontinuity design in Psychology, Statistics and Economics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 636-654, February.
  7. Powell, James L. & Stoker, Thomas M., 1996. "Optimal bandwidth choice for density-weighted averages," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 291-316, December.
  8. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
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