Subgroup balancing propensity score.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This paper concerns estimation of subgroup treatment effects with observational data. Existing propensity score methods are mostly developed for estimating overall treatment effect. Although the true propensity scores balance covariates in any subpopulations, the estimated propensity scores may result in severe imbalance in subgroup samples. Indeed, subgroup analysis amplifies a bias-variance tradeoff, whereby increasing complexity of the propensity score model may help to achieve covariate balance within subgroups, but it also increases variance. We propose a new method, the subgroup balancing propensity score, to ensure good subgroup balance as well as to control the variance inflation. For each subgroup, the subgroup balancing propensity score chooses to use either the overall sample or the subgroup (sub)sample to estimate the propensity scores for the units within that subgroup, in order to optimize a criterion accounting for a set of covariate-balancing moment conditions for both the overall sample and the subgroup samples. We develop two versions of subgroup balancing propensity score corresponding to matching and weighting, respectively. We devise a stochastic search algorithm to estimate the subgroup balancing propensity score when the number of subgroups is large. We demonstrate through simulations that the subgroup balancing propensity score improves the performance of propensity score methods in estimating subgroup treatment effects. We apply the subgroup balancing propensity score method to the Italy Survey of Household Income and Wealth (SHIW) to estimate the causal effects of having debit card on household consumption for different income groups.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dong, J; Zhang, JL; Zeng, S; Li, F

Published Date

  • March 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 29 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 659 - 676

PubMed ID

  • 31456486

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1477-0334

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-2802

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0962280219870836


  • eng