Propensity score matching methods for non-experimental causal studies

Rajeev Dehejia and Sadek Wahba
Review of economics and statistics, Volume 84, Number 1 (February 2002), pp. 151-161.

This paper considers causal inference and sample selection bias in nonexperimental settings in which (i) few units in the nonexperimental comparison group are comparable to the treatment units, and (ii) selecting a subset of comparison units similar to the treatment units is dif? cult because units must be compared across a high-dimensional set of pretreatment characteristics. We discuss the use of propensity score-matching methods, and implement them using data from the National Supported Work experiment. Following LaLonde (1986), we pair the experimental treated units with nonexperimental comparison units from the CPS and PSID, and compare the estimates of the treatment effect obtained using our methods to the benchmark results from the experiment. For both comparison groups, we show that the methods succeed in focusing attention on the small subset of the comparison units comparable to the treated units and, hence, in alleviating the bias due to systematic differences between the treated and comparison units.

Wagner Faculty