NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Manipulation of the Running Variable in the Regression Discontinuity Design: A Density Test

Justin McCrary

NBER Technical Working Paper No. 334
Issued in January 2007
NBER Program(s):   TWP

Standard sufficient conditions for identification in the regression discontinuity design are continuity of the conditional expectation of counterfactual outcomes in the running variable. These continuity assumptions may not be plausible if agents are able to manipulate the running variable. This paper develops a test of manipulation related to continuity of the running variable density function. The methodology is applied to popular elections to the House of Representatives, where sorting is neither expected nor found, and to roll-call voting in the House, where sorting is both expected and found.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/t0334

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