From Local to Global: External Validity in a Fertility Natural Experiment

85 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Rajeev H. Dehejia

Rajeev H. Dehejia

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo

Cristian Pop-Eleches

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

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Abstract

Experimental evidence on a range of interventions in developing countries is accumulating rapidly. Is it possible to extrapolate from an experimental evidence base to other locations of policy interest (from "reference" to "target" sites)? And which factors determine the accuracy of such an extrapolation? We investigate applying the Angrist and Evans (1998) natural experiment (the effect of boy-boy or girl-girl as the first two children on incremental fertility and mothers' labor force participation) to data from International IPUMS on 166 country-year censuses. We define the external validity function with extrapolation error depending on covariate differences between reference and target locations, and find that smaller differences in geography, education, calendar year, and mothers' labor force participation lead to lower extrapolation error. As experimental evidence accumulates, out-of-sample extrapolation error does not systematically approach zero if the available evidence base is naïvely extrapolated, but does if the external validity function is used to select the most appropriate reference context for a given target (although absolute error remains meaningful relative to the magnitude of the treatment effect). We also investigate where to locate experiments and the decision problem associated with extrapolating from existing evidence rather than running a new experiment at a target site.

Keywords: external validity, fertilty, labor supply

JEL Classification: F63, C90, D1

Suggested Citation

Dehejia, Rajeev H. and Pop-Eleches, Cristian (Kiki) and Samii, Cyrus, From Local to Global: External Validity in a Fertility Natural Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9300, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655340

Rajeev H. Dehejia (Contact Author)

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Cristian (Kiki) Pop-Eleches

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~cp2124

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

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New York, NY 10003
United States

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