On inverse probability-weighted estimators in the presence of interference

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SummaryWe consider inference about the causal effect of a treatment or exposure in the presence of interference, i.e., when one individual's treatment affects the outcome of another individual. In the observational setting where the treatment assignment mechanism is not known, inverse probability-weighted estimators have been proposed when individuals can be partitioned into groups such that there is no interference between individuals in different groups. Unfortunately this assumption, which is sometimes referred to as partial interference, may not hold, and moreover existing weighted estimators may have large variances. In this paper we consider weighted estimators that could be employed when interference is present. We first propose a generalized inverse probability-weighted estimator and two Hájek-type stabilized weighted estimators that allow any form of interference. We derive their asymptotic distributions and propose consistent variance estimators assuming partial interference. Empirical results show that one of the Hájek estimators can have substantially smaller finite-sample variance than the other estimators. The different estimators are illustrated using data on the effects of rotavirus vaccination in Nicaragua.

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