Using Classification and Regression Trees (CART) and Random Forests to Analyze Attrition: Results From Two Simulations

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Abstract

In this article, we describe a recent development in the analysis of attrition: using classification and regression trees (CART) and random forest methods to generate inverse sampling weights. These flexible machine learning techniques have the potential to capture complex nonlinear, interactive selection models, yet to our knowledge, their performance in the missing data analysis context has never been evaluated. To assess the potential benefits of these methods, we compare their performance with commonly employed multiple imputation and complete case techniques in 2 simulations. These initial results suggest that weights computed from pruned CART analyses performed well in terms of both bias and efficiency when compared with other methods. We discuss the implications of these findings for applied researchers.

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