Beyond late: Estimation of the average treatment effect with an instrumental variable

  • Aronow P
  • Carnegie A
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Political scientists frequently use instrumental variables (IV) estimation to estimate the causal effect of an endogenous treatment variable. However, when the treatment effect is heterogeneous, this estimation strategy only recovers the local average treatment effect (LATE). The LATE is an average treatment effect (ATE) for a subset of the population: units that receive treatment if and only if they are induced by an exogenous IV. However, researchers may instead be interested in the ATE for the entire population of interest. In this article, we develop a simple reweighting method for estimating the ATE, shedding light on the identification challenge posed in moving from the LATE to the ATE. We apply our method to two published experiments in political science in which we demonstrate that the LATE has the potential to substantively differ from the ATE. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Political Methodology. All rights reserved.

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  • P.M. Aronow

  • A. Carnegie

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