Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales

Nonparametric estimation of natural direct and indirect effects based on inverse probability weighting

Hsu, Yu-Chin ; Huber, Martin ; Lai, Tsung Chih

(Working Papers SES ; 482)

Using a sequential conditional independence assumption, this paper discusses fully nonparametric estimation of natural direct and indirect causal effects in causal mediation analysis based on inverse probability weighting. We propose estimators of the average indirect effect of a binary treatment, which operates through intermediate variables (or mediators) on the causal path between the... Plus

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    Summary
    Using a sequential conditional independence assumption, this paper discusses fully nonparametric estimation of natural direct and indirect causal effects in causal mediation analysis based on inverse probability weighting. We propose estimators of the average indirect effect of a binary treatment, which operates through intermediate variables (or mediators) on the causal path between the treatment and the outcome, as well as the unmediated direct effect. In a first step, treatment propensity scores given the mediator and observed covariates or given covariates alone are estimated by nonparametric series logit estimation. In a second step, they are used to reweigh observations in order to estimate the effects of interest. We establish root-n consistency and asymptotic normality of this approach as well as a weighted version thereof. The latter allows evaluating effects on specific subgroups like the treated, for which we derive the asymptotic properties under estimated propensity scores. We also provide a simulation study and an application to an information intervention about male circumcisions.