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Common support violations in clustered observational studies of educational interventions

In education settings, treatments are often non-randomly assigned to clusters, such as schools or classrooms, while outcomes are measured for students. This research design is called the clustered observational study (COS). We examine the consequences of common support violations in the COS context. Common support violations occur when the covariate distributions of treated and control units do not overlap. Such violations are likely to occur in a COS, especially with a small number of treated clusters. One common technique for dealing with common support violations is trimming treated units. We demonstrate how this practice can yield nonsensical results in some COSs. More specifically, we show how trimming the data can result in an uninterpretable estimand. We use data on Catholic schools to illustrate concepts throughout.

Keywords
Causal Inference; Clustered Observational Studies; Hierarchical/Multilevel Data; Common Support
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/7crh-th90

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Keele, Luke, Matthew Lenard, and Lindsay Page. (). Common support violations in clustered observational studies of educational interventions. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-454). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/7crh-th90

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