Estimating heterogeneous effects: applications to labor economics

Estimating heterogeneous effects: applications to labor economics

Series: Working Papers. 2414.

Author: Stéphane Bonhomme and Angela Denis.

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Summary

A growing number of applications involve settings where, in order to infer heterogeneous effects, a researcher compares various units. Examples of research designs include children moving between different neighborhoods, workers moving between firms, patients migrating from one city to another, and banks offering loans to different firms. We present a unified framework for these settings, based on a linear model with normal random coefficients and normal errors. Using the model, we discuss how to recover the mean and dispersion of effects, other features of their distribution, and how to construct predictors of the effects. We provide moment conditions on the model’s parameters, and outline various estimation strategies. One of the main objectives of the paper is to clarify some of the underlying assumptions by highlighting their economic content, and to discuss and inform some of the key practical choices.

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