Econometrica: Jul 2020, Volume 88, Issue 4

Estimating the Effect of Treatments Allocated by Randomized Waiting Lists

https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA16032
p. 1453-1477

Clément de Chaisemartin, Luc Behaghel

Oversubscribed treatments are often allocated using randomized waiting lists. Applicants are ranked randomly, and treatment offers are made following that ranking until all seats are filled. To estimate causal effects, researchers often compare applicants getting and not getting an offer. We show that those two groups are not statistically comparable. Therefore, the estimator arising from that comparison is inconsistent when the number of waitlists goes to infinity. We propose a new estimator, and show that it is consistent, provided the waitlists have at least two seats. Finally, we revisit an application, and we show that using our estimator can lead to a statistically significant difference with respect to the results obtained using the commonly used estimator.



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