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Identifying causal mechanisms in experiments (primarily) based on inverse probability weighting

  • Huber, Martin

    ()

This paper demonstrates the identification of causal mechanisms in experiments with a binary treatment, (primarily) based on inverse probability weighting. I.e., we consider the average indirect effect of the treatment, which operates through an intermediate variable (or mediator) that is situated on the causal path between the treatment and the outcome, as well as the (unmediated) direct effect. Even under random treatment assignment, subsequent selection into the mediator is generally non-random such that causal mechanisms are only identified when controlling for confounders of the mediator and the outcome. To tackle this issue, units are weighted by the inverse of their conditional treatment propensity given the mediator and observed confounders. We show that the form and applicability of weighting depend on whether the confounders are themselves influenced by the treatment or not. A simulation study gives the intuition for these results and an empirical application to the direct and indirect health effects (through employment) of the U.S. Job Corps program is also provided.

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File URL: http://www1.vwa.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/econwp/EWP-1213.pdf
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Paper provided by University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science in its series Economics Working Paper Series with number 1213.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision: May 2013
Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2012:13
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  1. Flores, Carlos A. & Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso, 2009. "Identification and Estimation of Causal Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment under Unconfoundedness," IZA Discussion Papers 4237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Scholarly Articles 3043416, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Li, Qi & Racine, Jeffrey S. & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2009. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects with Mixed Categorical and Continuous Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(2), pages 206-223.
  4. Newey, Whitney K., 1984. "A method of moments interpretation of sequential estimators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 14(2-3), pages 201-206.
  5. Hotz, V. Joseph & Crump, Richard K. & Mitnik, Oscar A. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Dealing with Limited Overlap in Estimation of Average Treatment Effects," Scholarly Articles 3007645, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Shaikh, Azeem M. & Simonsen, Marianne & Vytlacil, Edward J. & Yildiz, Nese, 2009. "A specification test for the propensity score using its distribution conditional on participation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 151(1), pages 33-46, July.
  7. 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.
  8. Huber, Martin & Lechner, Michael & Wunsch, Conny, 2010. "How to Control for Many Covariates? Reliable Estimators Based on the Propensity Score," IZA Discussion Papers 5268, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Busso, Matias & DiNardo, John & McCrary, Justin, 2009. "New Evidence on the Finite Sample Properties of Propensity Score Matching and Reweighting Estimators," IZA Discussion Papers 3998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Carlos A. Flores & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, 2010. "Nonparametric Partial Identification of Causal Net and Mechanism Average Treatment Effects," Working Papers 2010-25, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  11. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  12. Ana Llena-Nozal & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2005. "The effect of work on mental health: Does occupation Matter?," Labor and Demography 0501011, EconWPA.
  13. Carlos A. Flores & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, 2007. "Identification and Estimation of Casual Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment," Working Papers 0706, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  14. Kosuke Imai & Dustin Tingley & Teppei Yamamoto, 2013. "Experimental designs for identifying causal mechanisms," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(1), pages 5-51, 01.
  15. Lars Skipper & Marianne Simonsen, 2006. "The costs of motherhood: an analysis using matching estimators," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 919-934.
  16. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2003. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1161-1189, 07.
  17. Huber, Martin & Lechner, Michael & Wunsch, Conny, 2009. "Does Leaving Welfare Improve Health? Evidence for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Petri Böckerman & Pekka Ilmakunnas, 2009. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: evidence from panel data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 161-179.
  19. Martin Huber, 2010. "Identification of average treatment effects in social experiments under different forms of attrition," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-22, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  20. Charles F. Manski, 1989. "Anatomy of the Selection Problem," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 343-360.
  21. Peter Z. Schochet & John Burghardt & Steven Glazerman, 2001. "National Job Corps Study: The Impacts of Job Corps on Participants' Employment and Related Outcomes," Mathematica Policy Research Reports db6c4204b8e1408bb0c6289ec, Mathematica Policy Research.
  22. repec:mpr:mprres:2951 is not listed on IDEAS
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