Improved Precision in Estimating Average Treatment Effects

WP 2015-7.0

Authors: Emil Pitkin, Richard Berk, Larry Brown, Andreas Buja, Ed George, Kai Zhang, Linda Zhao


The Average Treatment Effect (ATE) is a global measure of the effectiveness of an experimental treatment intervention. Classical methods of its estimation either ignore relevant covariates or do not fully exploit them. Moreover, past work has considered covariates as fixed. We present a method for improving the precision of the ATE estimate: the treatment and control responses are estimated via a regression, and information is pooled between the groups to produce an asymptotically unbiased estimate; we subsequently justify the random X paradigm underlying the result. Standard errors are derived, and the estimator's performance is compared to the traditional estimator. Conditions under which the regression-based estimator is preferable are detailed, and a demonstration on real data is presented.

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