Heaping-Induced Bias in Regression-Discontinuity Designs

46 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2011

See all articles by Alan I. Barreca

Alan I. Barreca

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jason M. Lindo

Texas A&M University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Glen R. Waddell

University of Oregon - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2011

Abstract

This study uses Monte Carlo simulations to demonstrate that regression-discontinuity designs arrive at biased estimates when attributes related to outcomes predict heaping in the running variable. After showing that our usual diagnostics are poorly suited to identifying this type of problem, we provide alternatives. We also demonstrate how the magnitude and direction of the bias varies with bandwidth choice and the location of the data heaps relative to the treatment threshold. Finally, we discuss approaches to correcting for this type of problem before considering these issues in several non-simulated environments.

Suggested Citation

Barreca, Alan I. and Lindo, Jason M. and Waddell, Glen R., Heaping-Induced Bias in Regression-Discontinuity Designs (September 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17408, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1931179

Alan I. Barreca (Contact Author)

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Jason M. Lindo

Texas A&M University ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Glen R. Waddell

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

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United States
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541-346-1243 (Fax)

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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