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Doubly Robust Proximal Synthetic Controls

by   Hongxiang Qiu, et al.

To infer the treatment effect for a single treated unit using panel data, synthetic control methods search for a linear combination of control units' outcomes that mimics the treated unit's pre-treatment outcome trajectory. This linear combination is subsequently used to impute the counterfactual outcomes of the treated unit had it not been treated in the post-treatment period, and used to estimate the treatment effect. Existing synthetic control methods rely on correctly modeling certain aspects of the counterfactual outcome generating mechanism and may require near-perfect matching of the pre-treatment trajectory. Inspired by proximal causal inference, we obtain two novel nonparametric identifying formulas for the average treatment effect for the treated unit: one is based on weighting, and the other combines models for the counterfactual outcome and the weighting function. We develop two GMM-based treatment effect estimators based on these two formulas. One new estimator is doubly robust: it is consistent and asymptotically normal if at least one of the outcome and weighting models is correctly specified. We demonstrate the performance of the methods via simulations and apply them to evaluate the effect of Sweden's carbon tax on CO_2 emission.


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