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Beyond Random Assignment: Credible Inference of Causal Effects in Dynamic Economies

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  • Christopher A. Hennessy
  • Ilya A. Strebulaev

Abstract

Random assignment is insufficient for measured treatment responses to recover causal effects (comparative statics) in dynamic economies. We characterize analytically bias probabilities and magnitudes. If the policy variable is binary there is attenuation bias. With more than two policy states, treatment responses can undershoot, overshoot, or have incorrect signs. Under permanent random assignment, treatment responses overshoot (have incorrect signs) for realized changes opposite in sign to (small relative to) expected changes. We derive necessary and sufficient conditions, beyond random assignment, for correct inference of causal effects: martingale policy variable. Infinitesimal transition rates are only sufficient absent fixed costs. Stochastic monotonicity is sufficient for correct sign inference. If these conditions are not met, we show how treatment responses can nevertheless be corrected and mapped to causal effects or extrapolated to forecast responses to future policy changes within or across policy generating processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher A. Hennessy & Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2015. "Beyond Random Assignment: Credible Inference of Causal Effects in Dynamic Economies," NBER Working Papers 20978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20978
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Xavier Giroud & Joshua Rauh, 2015. "State Taxation and the Reallocation of Business Activity: Evidence from Establishment-Level Data," NBER Working Papers 21534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mukherjee, Abhiroop & Singh, Manpreet & Žaldokas, Alminas, 2017. "Do corporate taxes hinder innovation?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 195-221.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • C54 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Quantitative Policy Modeling
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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