Distributional Impact Analysis: Toolkit and Illustrations of Impacts Beyond the Average Treatment Effect

70 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018

See all articles by Guadalupe Bedoya Arguelles

Guadalupe Bedoya Arguelles

World Bank

Luca Bittarello

Northwestern University

Jonathan Davis

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Nikolas Mittag

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2018

Abstract

Program evaluations often focus on average treatment effects. However, average treatment effects miss important aspects of policy evaluation, such as the impact on inequality and whether treatment harms some individuals. A growing literature develops methods to evaluate such issues by examining the distributional impacts of programs and policies. This toolkit reviews methods to do so, focusing on their application to randomized control trials. The paper emphasizes two strands of the literature: estimation of impacts on outcome distributions and estimation of the distribution of treatment impacts.The article then discusses extensions to conditional treatment effect heterogeneity, that is, to analyses of how treatment impacts vary with observed characteristics. The paper offers advice on inference, testing, and power calculations, which are important when implementing distributional analyses in practice. Finally, the paper illustrates select methods using data from two randomized evaluations.

Keywords: policy evaluation, distributional impact analysis, heterogeneous treatment effects, impacts on outcome distributions, distribution of treatment effects, random control trials

JEL Classification: C18, C21, C54, C93, D39

Suggested Citation

Bedoya Arguelles, Guadalupe and Bittarello, Luca and Davis, Jonathan and Mittag, Nikolas, Distributional Impact Analysis: Toolkit and Illustrations of Impacts Beyond the Average Treatment Effect (September 2018). IZA Discussion Paper No. 11863. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3261720

Guadalupe Bedoya Arguelles (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Luca Bittarello

Northwestern University

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Jonathan Davis

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 E 60th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 E 60th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Nikolas Mittag

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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