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Department: Biostatistics
Term: 3rd term
Credits: 4 credits
Academic Year: 2012 - 2013

Presents an overview of methods for estimating causal effects: how to answer the question of “What is the effect of A on B?” Includes discussion of randomized designs, but with more emphasis on alternative designs for when randomization is infeasible: matching methods, propensity scores, regression discontinuity, and instrumental variables. Methods are motivated by examples from the health sciences, particularly mental health and community or school-level interventions.

Learning Objective(s):
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
Discuss causal problems as potential interventions, through the framework of potential outcomes and assignment mechanisms,
Describe the spectrum of designs for both randomized and non-randomized studies,
Identify the situations for which non-randomized designs are most appropriate,
apply methods for estimating causal effects, including propensity score techniques, instrumental variables (“encouragement designs”), and regression discontinuity
critically review research that claims to estimate causal effects with non-experimental data
discuss complications encountered in causal studies, including missing data, noncompliance, and hidden bias

Methods of Assessment: 60% of 4 homeworks, 30% project, 10% class participation
Location: East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • Tuesday 10:30 - 11:50
  • Thursday 10:30 - 11:50
Enrollment Minimum: 10
Instructor Consent: No consent required

140.621-624 or 140.651-654, or consent of the instructor

Grading Restriction: Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Jointly Offered With: