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On the Role of Covariates in the Synthetic Control Method

Botosaru, Irene and Ferman, Bruno (2017): On the Role of Covariates in the Synthetic Control Method.

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We derive conditions under which the original result of Abadie et al (2010) regarding the bias of the Synthetic Control (SC) estimator remains valid when we relax the assumption of a perfect match on observed covariates. We then show that, even when the conditions for the first result are valid, a perfect match on pre-treatment outcomes does not generally imply an approximate match for all covariates. Taken together, our results show that a perfect match on covariates should not be required for the SC method, as long as there is a perfect match on a long set of pre-treatment outcomes.

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