Designing Representative and Balanced Experiments by Local Randomization

16 Nov 2021  ·  Max Cytrynbaum ·

This paper studies treatment effect estimation in a novel two-stage model of experimentation. In the first stage, using baseline covariates, the researcher selects units to participate in the experiment from a sample of eligible units... Next, they assign each selected unit to one of two treatment arms. We relate estimator efficiency to representative selection of participants and balanced assignment of treatments. We define a new family of local randomization procedures, which can be used for both selection and assignment. This family nests stratified block randomization and matched pairs, the most commonly used designs in practice in development economics, but also produces many useful new designs, embedding them in a unified framework. When used to select representative units into the experiment, local randomization boosts effective sample size, making estimators behave as if they were estimated using a larger experiment. When used for treatment assignment, local randomization does model-free non-parametric regression adjustment by design. We give novel asymptotically exact inference methods for locally randomized selection and assignment, allowing experimenters to report smaller confidence intervals if they designed a representative experiment. We apply our methods to the setting of two-wave design, where the researcher has access to a pilot study when designing the main experiment. We use local randomization methods to give the first fully efficient solution to this problem. read more

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