Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales

A review of causal mediation analysis for assessing direct and indirect treatment effects

Huber, Martin

(Working Papers SES ; 500)

Mediation analysis aims at evaluating the causal mechanisms through which a treatment or intervention affects an outcome of interest. The goal is to disentangle the total treatment effect into an indirect effect operating through one or several observed intermediate variables, the so-called mediators, as well as a direct effect reflecting any impact not captured by the observed mediator(s).... Plus

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    Summary
    Mediation analysis aims at evaluating the causal mechanisms through which a treatment or intervention affects an outcome of interest. The goal is to disentangle the total treatment effect into an indirect effect operating through one or several observed intermediate variables, the so-called mediators, as well as a direct effect reflecting any impact not captured by the observed mediator(s). This paper reviews methodological advancements with a particular focus on applications in economics. It defines the parameters of interest, covers various identification strategies, e.g. based on control variables or instruments, and presents sensitivity checks. Furthermore, it discusses several extensions of the standard mediation framework, such as multivalued treatments, mismeasured mediators, and outcome attrition.