QSSC: Estimating Controlled Direct Effects with Panel Data

An Application to Reducing Support for Discriminatory Policies
May 3, 2024, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
127 Corwin Hall


Event Description

Recent experimental studies in the social sciences have demonstrated that short, perspective-taking conversations are effective at reducing prejudicial attitudes and support for discriminatory public policies, but it is unclear if such interventions can directly affect policy views without changing prejudice. Unfortunately, the identification and estimation of the controlled direct effect---the natural causal quantity of interest for this question---has required strong selection-on-observables assumptions for any mediator. We leverage a recent experimental study with multiple survey waves of follow-up to identify and estimate the controlled direct effect using the changes in the outcome and mediator over time. This design allows us to weaken the identification assumptions to allow for linear and time-constant unmeasured confounding between the mediator and the outcome. Furthermore, we develop a semiparametrically efficient and doubly robust estimator for these quantities. We find that there is a robust controlled direct effect of perspective-taking conversations when subjective feelings are neutral but not positive or negative.