Efficiency of Regression (Un)-Adjusted Rosenbaum's Rank-based Estimator in Randomized Experiments

by   Aditya Ghosh, et al.

A completely randomized experiment allows us to estimate the causal effect by the difference in the averages of the outcome under the treatment and control. But, difference-in-means type estimators behave poorly if the potential outcomes have a heavy-tail, or contain a few extreme observations or outliers. We study an alternative estimator by Rosenbaum that estimates the causal effect by inverting a randomization test using ranks. We study the asymptotic properties of this estimator and develop a framework to compare the efficiencies of different estimators of the treatment effect in the setting of randomized experiments. In particular, we show that the Rosenbaum estimator has variance that is asymptotically, in the worst case, at most about 1.16 times the variance of the difference-in-means estimator, and can be much smaller when the potential outcomes are not light-tailed. We further derive a consistent estimator of the asymptotic standard error for the Rosenbaum estimator which immediately yields a readily computable confidence interval for the treatment effect, thereby alleviating the expensive numerical calculations needed to implement the original proposal of Rosenbaum. Further, we propose a regression adjusted version of the Rosenbaum estimator to incorporate additional covariate information in randomization inference. We prove gain in efficiency by this regression adjustment method under a linear regression model. Finally, we illustrate through simulations that, unlike the difference-in-means based estimators, either unadjusted or regression adjusted, these rank-based estimators are efficient and robust against heavy-tailed distributions, contamination, and various model misspecifications.



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