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Can Variation in Subgroups' Average Treatment Effects Explain Treatment Effect Heterogeneity? Evidence from a Social Experiment

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  • Marianne P. Bitler
  • Jonah B. Gelbach
  • Hilary W. Hoynes

Abstract

In this paper, we assess whether welfare reform affects earnings only through mean impacts that are constant within but vary across subgroups. This is important because researchers interested in treatment effect heterogeneity typically restrict their attention to estimating mean impacts that are only allowed to vary across subgroups. Using a novel approach to simulating treatment group earnings under the constant mean-impacts within subgroup model, we find that this model does a poor job of capturing the treatment effect heterogeneity for Connecticut's Jobs First welfare reform experiment using quantile treatment effects. Notably, ignoring within-group heterogeneity would lead one to miss evidence that the Jobs First experiment's effects are consistent with central predictions of basic labor supply theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2014. "Can Variation in Subgroups' Average Treatment Effects Explain Treatment Effect Heterogeneity? Evidence from a Social Experiment," NBER Working Papers 20142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20142
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Patrick Kline & Melissa Tartari, 2016. "Bounding the Labor Supply Responses to a Randomized Welfare Experiment: A Revealed Preference Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 972-1014, April.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sam Watson’s journal round up for 16th October 2017
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2017-10-16 16:00:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Xavier D’Haultfoeuille & Pauline Givord, 2014. "La régression quantile en pratique," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 471(1), pages 85-111.
    2. Lazuka, Volha, 2017. "The lasting health and income effects of public health formation in Sweden," Lund Papers in Economic History 153, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    3. Robert Garlick, 2018. "Academic Peer Effects with Different Group Assignment Policies: Residential Tracking versus Random Assignment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 345-369, July.
    4. Xiao, Zhijie & Xu, Lan, 2019. "What do mean impacts miss? Distributional effects of corporate diversification," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 213(1), pages 92-120.
    5. Afrouz Azadikhah Jahromi & Brantly Callaway, 2019. "Heterogeneous Effects of Job Displacement on Earnings," DETU Working Papers 1901, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    6. Gibbons Charles E. & Suárez Serrato Juan Carlos & Urbancic Michael B., 2019. "Broken or Fixed Effects?," Journal of Econometric Methods, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-12, January.
    7. Strittmatter, Anthony, 2019. "Heterogeneous earnings effects of the job corps by gender: A translated quantile approach," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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