How to Use the Front-Door Criterion — New Working Paper

If you follow Marc Bellemare’s blog or specifically his ‘Metrics Monday series, you will already be aware of our new working paper. The paper is titled: “The Paper of How: Estimating Treatment Effects Using the Front-Door Criterion.” The number of people who are reading this post and who do not already read Marc’s blog is probably very small. So, with that in mind, I will offer a few additional thoughts based on the preliminary work writing this paper.

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Is there an Identification-Importance Trade-off?

There is a story that floats around my department about an invited seminar speaker a few years back. Someone from the audience asked the speaker how they originally thought of the research idea. The speaker answered, “Well, my co-authors and I found some exogenous variation in our data and so we began to look for a relevant outcome.”

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Contract Farming and Causal Inference

I am excited to announce that Marc Bellemare and I have a new paper out in World Development. It is a review of the contract farming literature in developing countries. In the review we do three things. First, we briefly introduce the institution of contract farming in developing countries. Second, we review evidence from the literature on the question: “Does contract farming improve welfare?” and find that, in terms of present-day standards for credible causal inference, the ability of policy-makers to learn much from this literature is relatively low. Finally, we discuss where the literature on contract farming should focus itself in the future.

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