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A cautionary tale on using panel data estimators to measure program impacts

Casey Wichman () and Paul Ferraro ()

Economics Letters, 2017, vol. 151, issue C, 82-90

Abstract: We compare experimental and nonexperimental estimates from a social and informational messaging experiment. Our results show that applying a fixed effects estimator in conjunction with matching to pre-process nonexperimental comparison groups cannot replicate an experimental benchmark, despite parallel pre-intervention trends and good covariate balance. The results are a stark reminder about the role of untestable assumptions–in our case, conditional bias stability–in drawing causal inferences from observational data, and the dangers of relying on single studies to justify program scaling-up or canceling.

Keywords: Design replication; Program evaluation; Matching; Panel data; Water conservation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C52 C93 D12 H42 Q25 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:151:y:2017:i:c:p:82-90