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From Local to Global: External Validity in a Fertility Natural Experiment

Listed author(s):
  • Rajeev Dehejia
  • Cristian Pop-Eleches
  • Cyrus Samii

We study issues related to external validity for treatment effects using 166 replications of the Angrist and Evans (1998) natural experiment on the effects of sibling sex composition on fertility and labor supply. The replications are based on census data from around the world going back to 1960. We decompose sources of error in predicting treatment effects in external contexts in terms of macro and micro sources of variation. In our empirical setting, we find that macro covariates dominate over micro covariates for reducing errors in predicting treatments, an issue that past studies of external validity have been unable to evaluate. We develop methods for two applications to evidencebased decision-making, including determining where to run the next experiment and whether policy-makers should commission new research or rely on an existing evidence base for making a policy decision.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21459.

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Date of creation: Aug 2015
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21459
Note: CH DEV LS
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  1. David Card & Jochen Kluve & Andrea Weber, 2010. "Active Labour Market Policy Evaluations: A Meta-Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(548), pages 452-477, November.
  2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
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  4. Dehejia, Rajeev H, 2003. "Was There a Riverside Miracle? A Hierarchical Framework for Evaluating Programs with Grouped Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(1), pages 1-11, January.
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  6. Elizabeth A. Stuart & Stephen R. Cole & Catherine P. Bradshaw & Philip J. Leaf, 2011. "The use of propensity scores to assess the generalizability of results from randomized trials," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 174(2), pages 369-386, 04.
  7. Joseph Hotz, V. & Imbens, Guido W. & Mortimer, Julie H., 2005. "Predicting the efficacy of future training programs using past experiences at other locations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 241-270.
  8. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-477, June.
  9. Alberto Abadie & Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2014. "Finite Population Causal Standard Errors," NBER Working Papers 20325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
  11. Lant Pritchett, Justin Sandefur, 2013. "Context Matters for Size: Why External Validity Claims and Development Practice Don't Mix-Working Paper 336," Working Papers 336, Center for Global Development.
  12. Aronow, Peter M. & Carnegie, Allison, 2013. "Beyond LATE: Estimation of the Average Treatment Effect with an Instrumental Variable," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(04), pages 492-506, September.
  13. Joshua Angrist & Ivan Fernandez-Val, 2010. "ExtrapoLATE-ing: External Validity and Overidentification in the LATE Framework," NBER Working Papers 16566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Avraham Ebenstein, 2009. "When is the Local Average Treatment Close to the Average?: Evidence from Fertility and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).
  15. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  16. Donald B. Rubin, 1992. "Meta-Analysis: Literature Synthesis or Effect-Size Surface Estimation?," Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, , vol. 17(4), pages 363-374, December.
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