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Brownbag Seminars: Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in Regression Discontinuity Design

Ágoston Reguly
Wednesday, December 1, 2021, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Abstract: The paper proposes a causal supervised machine learning algorithm to uncover treatment effect heterogeneity in classical regression discontinuity (RD) designs. Extending Athey and Imbens (2016), I develop a criterion for building an honest “regression discontinuity tree”, where each leaf of the tree contains the RD estimate of a treatment (assigned by a common cutoff rule) conditional on the values of some pre-treatment covariates. It is a priori unknown which covariates are relevant for capturing treatment effect heterogeneity, and it is the task of the algorithm to discover them, without invalidating inference. I study the performance of the method through Monte Carlo simulations and apply it to the data set compiled by Pop-Eleches and Urquiola (2013) to uncover various sources of heterogeneity in the impact of attending a better secondary school in Romania.