Inference on treatment effects after selection among high-dimensional controls

Published

Journal Article

We propose robust methods for inference about the effect of a treatment variable on a scalar outcome in the presence of very many regressors in a model with possibly non-Gaussian and heteroscedastic disturbances. We allow for the number of regressors to be largerthan the sample size. To make informative inference feasible, we require the model to be approximately sparse; that is, we require that the effect of confounding factors can be controlled for up to a small approximation error by including a relatively small number ofvariables whose identities are unknown. The latter condition makes it possible to estimate the treatment effect by selecting approximately the right set of regressors. We develop a novel estimation and uniformly valid inference method for the treatment effect in this setting, called the "post-double-selection" method. The main attractive feature of our method is that it allows for imperfect selection of the controls and provides confidence intervals that are valid uniformly across a large class of models. In contrast, standard post-model selection estimators fail to provide uniform inference even in simple cases witha small, fixed number of controls. Thus, our method resolves the problem of uniform inference after model selection for a large, interesting class of models. We also present a generalization of our method to a fully heterogeneous model with a binary treatment variable. We illustrate the use of the developed methods with numerical simulations and an application that considers the effect of abortion on crime rates. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Review of Economic Studies Limited.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Belloni, A; Chernozhukov, V; Hansen, C

Published Date

  • January 1, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 81 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 608 - 650

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-937X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-6527

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/restud/rdt044

Citation Source

  • Scopus