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September 1998 - Volume 66 Issue 5 Page 1017 - 1098


p.1017


Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data

James Heckman
Hidehiko Ichimura
Jeffrey Smith
Petra Todd

Abstract

Semiparametric methods are developed to estimate the bias that arises from using nonexperimental comparison groups to evaluate social programs and to test the identifying assumptions that justify matching, selection models, and the method of difference-in-differences. Using data from an experiment on a prototypical social program and data from nonexperimental comparison groups, we reject the assumptions justifying matching and our extensions of it. The evidence supports the selection bias model and the assumptions that justify a semiparametric version of the method of difference-in-differences. We extend our analysis to consider applications of the methods to ordinary observational data.

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