Regression Kink Design: Theory and Practice

David Card, David S. Lee, Zhuan Pei, Andrea Weber

NBER Working Paper No. 22781
Issued in October 2016
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies, Public Economics

A regression kink design (RKD or RK design) can be used to identify casual effects in settings where the regressor of interest is a kinked function of an assignment variable. In this paper, we apply an RKD approach to study the effect of unemployment benefits on the duration of joblessness in Austria, and discuss implementation issues that may arise in similar settings, including the use of bandwidth selection algorithms and bias-correction procedures. Although recent developments in nonparametric estimation (e.g. Imbens et al. (2012) and Calonico et al. (2014)) are sometimes interpreted by practitioners as pointing to a default estimation procedure, we show that in any given application different procedures may perform better or worse. In particular, Monte Carlo simulations based on data generating processes that closely resemble the data from our application show that some asymptotically dominant procedures may actually perform worse than “sub-optimal” alternatives in a given empirical application.

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

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for 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.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22781

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Card, Lee, Pei, and Weber w18564 Nonlinear Policy Rules and the Identification and Estimation of Causal Effects in a Generalized Regression Kink Design
Doudchenko and Imbens w22791 Balancing, Regression, Difference-In-Differences and Synthetic Control Methods: A Synthesis
Card, Johnston, Leung, Mas, and Pei w20869 The Effect of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment Insurance Receipt: New Evidence from a Regression Kink Design in Missouri, 2003-2013
Acemoglu, Akcigit, and Kerr w22783 Innovation Network
Kosar and Moffitt w22782 Trends in Cumulative Marginal Tax Rates Facing Low-Income Families, 1997-2007
NBER Videos

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

Contact Us