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A Note on Endogenous Control Variables in Evaluation Studies

  • Michael Lechner


The paper addresses the issue of potentially endogenous control variables in evaluation studies based on the assumption that selection bias can be avoided by conditioning on observed variables. It shows that the standard formulation of the conditional independence (CIA) or selection on observables assumption obscures the endogeneity problem. The paper clarifies the issue by suggesting a CIA based on exogenous (potential) outcomes as well as explicit exogeneity conditions. The refined CIA allows to asses the endogeneity bias as well as the plausibility of the CIA, because it allows a separate discussion of (i) the problems of missing variables that are necessary to avoid selection bias, and (ii) the problem that some of the control variables may be influenced by the treatment.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2005 with number 2005-16.

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Length: 8 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2005:2005-16
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  1. Michael Gerfin & Michael Lechner, 2002. "A Microeconometric Evaluation of the Active Labour Market Policy in Switzerland," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 854-893, October.
  2. Donald B. Rubin, 2005. "Causal Inference Using Potential Outcomes: Design, Modeling, Decisions," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 322-331, March.
  3. Donald B. Rubin, 2004. "Direct and Indirect Causal Effects via Potential Outcomes," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Danish Society for Theoretical Statistics;Finnish Statistical Society;Norwegian Statistical Association;Swedish Statistical Association, vol. 31(2), pages 161-170.
  4. Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "An Evaluation of the Swedish System of Active Labor Market Programs in the 1990s," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 133-155, February.
  5. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
  6. Guido W. Imbens, 2003. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects under Exogeneity: A Review," NBER Technical Working Papers 0294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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