Bounding Causal Effects in Ecological Inference Problems

16 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2015

See all articles by Alejandro Corvalan

Alejandro Corvalan

Universidad Diego Portales - Facultad de Economía y Empresa; New York University (NYU) - Faculty of Arts and Science

Emerson Melo

Indiana University Bloomington

Robert P. Sherman

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Matthew Shum

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: March 2015

Abstract

This paper is concerned with making causal inferences with ecological data. Aggregate outcome information is combined with individual demographic information from separate data sources to make causal inferences about individual behavior. In addressing such problems, even under the selection on observables assumption often made in the treatment effects literature, it is not possible to identify causal effects of interest. However, recent results from the partial identification literature provide the tightest upper and lower bounds on these causal effects. We apply these bounds to data from Chilean mayoral elections that straddle a 2012 change in Chilean electoral law from compulsory to voluntary voting. Aggregate voting outcomes are combined with individual demographic information from separate data sources to determine the causal effect of the change in the law on voter turnout. The bounds analysis reveals that voluntary voting decreased expected voter turnout, and that other causal effects are overstated if the bounds analysis is ignored.

Suggested Citation

Corvalan, Alejandro and Melo, Emerson and Sherman, Robert P. and Shum, Matthew, Bounding Causal Effects in Ecological Inference Problems (March 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700787 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2700787

Alejandro Corvalan

Universidad Diego Portales - Facultad de Economía y Empresa ( email )

Manuel Rodriguez Sur 253
Santiago
Chile

New York University (NYU) - Faculty of Arts and Science ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Emerson Melo

Indiana University Bloomington ( email )

Dept of Economics
100 South Indiana Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Robert P. Sherman

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

Matthew Shum (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

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