A Regression-with-Residuals Method for Estimating Controlled Direct Effects

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Authors Xiang Xing Zhou, Geoffrey T. Wodtke
Journal/Conference Name POLITICAL ANALYSIS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Political scientists are increasingly interested in causal mediation, and to this end, recent studies focus on estimating a quantity called the controlled direct e ect (CDE). The CDE measures the strength of the causal relationship between a treatment and outcome when a mediator is fixed at a given value. To estimate the CDE, Jo e and Greene (2009) and Vansteelandt (2009) developed the method of sequential g-estimation, which was introduced to political science by Acharya, Blackwell, and Sen (2016). In this letter, we propose an alternative method called “regression-with-residuals” (RWR) for estimating the CDE. In special cases, we show that these two methods are algebraically equivalent. Yet, unlike sequential g-estimation, RWR can easily accommodate several types of e ect moderation, including cases in which the e ect of the mediator on the outcome is moderated by a posttreatment confounder. Although common in the social sciences, this type of e ect moderation is typically assumed away in applications of sequential g-estimation, which may lead to bias if e ectmoderation is in fact present. We illustrate RWR by estimating the CDE of negativemedia framing on public support for immigration, controlling for respondent anxiety.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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