What is Design-Based Causal Inference and Why Should I Use It?

Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Analytic Technical Assistance and Development
Jul 31, 2017
Peter Z. Schochet
This brief aims to broaden knowledge of design-based methods by describing their key concepts and how they compare to model-based methods. Rudiments of the design-based approach are presented using simple mathematical notation, and the intuition underlying the theory is discussed for designs where individuals or groups are randomized. The brief explains in simple terms the advantages of the design-based approach relative to commonly-used model-based approaches, such as hierarchical linear modeling (HLM).