NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trimming for Bounds on Treatment Effects with Missing Outcomes

David S. Lee

NBER Technical Working Paper No. 277
Issued in June 2002
NBER Program(s):   TWP

Empirical researchers routinely encounter sample selection bias whereby 1) the regressor of interest is assumed to be exogenous, 2) the dependent variable is missing in a potentially non-random manner, 3) the dependent variable is characterized by an unbounded (or very large) support, and 4) it is unknown which variables directly affect sample selection but not the outcome. This paper proposes a simple and intuitive bounding procedure that can be used in this context. The proposed trimming procedure yields the tightest bounds on average treatment effects consistent with the observed data. The key assumption is a monotonicity restriction on how the assignment to treatment effects selection -- a restriction that is implicitly assumed in standard formulations of the sample selection problem.

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