Benign-Overfitting in Conditional Average Treatment Effect Prediction with Linear Regression

02/10/2022
by   Masahiro Kato, et al.
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We study the benign overfitting theory in the prediction of the conditional average treatment effect (CATE), with linear regression models. As the development of machine learning for causal inference, a wide range of large-scale models for causality are gaining attention. One problem is that suspicions have been raised that the large-scale models are prone to overfitting to observations with sample selection, hence the large models may not be suitable for causal prediction. In this study, to resolve the suspicious, we investigate on the validity of causal inference methods for overparameterized models, by applying the recent theory of benign overfitting (Bartlett et al., 2020). Specifically, we consider samples whose distribution switches depending on an assignment rule, and study the prediction of CATE with linear models whose dimension diverges to infinity. We focus on two methods: the T-learner, which based on a difference between separately constructed estimators with each treatment group, and the inverse probability weight (IPW)-learner, which solves another regression problem approximated by a propensity score. In both methods, the estimator consists of interpolators that fit the samples perfectly. As a result, we show that the T-learner fails to achieve the consistency except the random assignment, while the IPW-learner converges the risk to zero if the propensity score is known. This difference stems from that the T-learner is unable to preserve eigenspaces of the covariances, which is necessary for benign overfitting in the overparameterized setting. Our result provides new insights into the usage of causal inference methods in the overparameterizated setting, in particular, doubly robust estimators.

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