Regression Discontinuity Threshold Optimization

28 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2019

See all articles by Ioana Elena Marinescu

Ioana Elena Marinescu

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sofia Triantafillou

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Biomedical Informatics

Konrad Kording

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: February 12, 2019

Abstract

Treatments often come with thresholds, e.g. we are given statins if our cholesterol is above a certain threshold. But which statin administration threshold maximizes our quality of life adjusted years? More generally, which threshold would optimize the average expected outcome? Regression discontinuity approaches are used to measure the local average treatment effect (LATE) and more recently also the treatment effect derivative (TED). Here we show how they can be used to optimize the threshold itself using linear methods related to Newton's method as well as Gaussian process regressions. Phrasing the problem as optimization allows for a range of distinct estimators, including one that is unlikely to produce harm.

Keywords: regression discontinuity, optimization, program evaluation

JEL Classification: C21, C31

Suggested Citation

Marinescu, Ioana Elena and Triantafillou, Sofia and Kording, Konrad, Regression Discontinuity Threshold Optimization (February 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3333334 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3333334

Ioana Elena Marinescu (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice ( email )

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Sofia Triantafillou

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Biomedical Informatics ( email )

5607 Baum Boulevard, Suite 500
Pittsburgh, PA 15206-3701
United States

Konrad Kording

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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