Panel Experiments and Dynamic Causal Effects: A Finite Population Perspective

Citation:

Shephard, Neil, Iavor Bojinov, and Ashesh Rambachan. Forthcoming. “Panel Experiments and Dynamic Causal Effects: A Finite Population Perspective.” Quantitative Economics.
2003.099151.pdf4.29 MB

Date Published:

2021

Abstract:

In panel experiments, we randomly expose multiple units to different interventions and measure their subsequent outcomes, sequentially repeating the procedure numerous times. Using the potential outcomes framework, we define finite population dynamic causal effects that capture the relative effectiveness of alternative treatment paths. For the leading example, known as the lag-p dynamic causal effects, we provide a nonparametric estimator that is unbiased over the randomization distribution. We then derive the finite population limiting distribution of our estimators as either the sample size or the duration of the experiment increases. Our approach provides a new technique for deriving finite population central limit theorems that exploits the underlying Martingale property of unbiased estimators. We further describe two methods for conducting inference on dynamic causal effects: a conservative test for weak null hypotheses of zero average causal effects using the limiting distribution and an exact randomization-based test for sharp null hypotheses. We also derive the finite population limiting distribution of commonly-used linear fixed effects estimators, showing that these estimators perform poorly in the presence of dynamic causal effects. We conclude with a simulation study and an empirical application in which we reanalyze a lab experiment on cooperation.

Last updated on 05/20/2021