NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Thomas Barrios

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February 2010Clustering, Spatial Correlations and Randomization Inference
with Rebecca Diamond, Guido W. Imbens, Michal Kolesar: w15760
It is standard practice in empirical work to allow for clustering in the error covariance matrix if the explanatory variables of interest vary at a more aggregate level than the units of observation. Often, however, the structure of the error covariance matrix is more complex, with correlations varying in magnitude within clusters, and not vanishing between clusters. Here we explore the implications of such correlations for the actual and estimated precision of least squares estimators. We show that with equal sized clusters, if the covariate of interest is randomly assigned at the cluster level, only accounting for non-zero covariances at the cluster level, and ignoring correlations between clusters, leads to valid standard errors and confidence intervals. However, in many cases this m...

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