NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What Are We Weighting For?

Gary Solon, Steven J. Haider, Jeffrey Wooldridge

NBER Working Paper No. 18859
Issued in February 2013
NBER Program(s):   CH   DEV   ED   HC   HE   LS   PE   TWP

The purpose of this paper is to help empirical economists think through when and how to weight the data used in estimation. We start by distinguishing two purposes of estimation: to estimate population descriptive statistics and to estimate causal effects. In the former type of research, weighting is called for when it is needed to make the analysis sample representative of the target population. In the latter type, the weighting issue is more nuanced. We discuss three distinct potential motives for weighting when estimating causal effects: (1) to achieve precise estimates by correcting for heteroskedasticity, (2) to achieve consistent estimates by correcting for endogenous sampling, and (3) to identify average partial effects in the presence of unmodeled heterogeneity of effects. In each case, we find that the motive sometimes does not apply in situations where practitioners often assume it does. We recommend diagnostics for assessing the advisability of weighting, and we suggest methods for appropriate inference.

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18859

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Imbens and Wooldridge w14251 Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation
Porter On The Use of Survey Sample Weights in the Linear Model
Imbens and Kolesar w18478 Robust Standard Errors in Small Samples: Some Practical Advice
Nunn and Wantchekon w14783 The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa
Elfenbein, Fisman, and McManus w20074 Market Structure, Reputation, and the Value of Quality Certification
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us