A Theory of Statistical Inference for Matching Methods in Causal Research

Citation:

Stefano M. Iacus, Gary King, and Giuseppe Porro. 2017. “A Theory of Statistical Inference for Matching Methods in Causal Research”. Copy at http://j.mp/2ovOYah
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A Theory of Statistical Inference for Matching Methods in Causal Research

Abstract:

Researchers who generate data often optimize efficiency and robustness by choosing stratified over simple random sampling designs. Yet, all theories of inference proposed to justify matching methods are based on simple random sampling. This is all the more troubling because, although these theories require exact matching, most matching applications resort to some form of ex post stratification (on a propensity score, distance metric, or the covariates) to find approximate matches, thus nullifying the statistical properties the theories are designed to ensure. Fortunately, the type of sampling used in a theory of inference is an axiom, rather than an assumption vulnerable to being proven wrong, and so we can replace simple with stratified sampling, so long as we can show, as we do here, that the implications of the theory are coherent and remain true. We also show, under our resulting stratified sampling-based theory of inference, that matching in observational studies becomes intuitive and easy to understand. Properties of estimators based on this theory can be satisfied without asymptotics, assumptions hidden in data analysis rather than stated up front, or unfamiliar estimators. This theory also allows binary, multicategory, and continuous treatment variables from the outset and straightforward   extensions for imperfect treatment assignment and different versions of treatments.

Last updated on 10/04/2017