Quantifying Heterogeneous Causal Treatment Effects in World Bank Development Finance Projects

  • Jianing ZhaoEmail author
  • Daniel M. Runfola
  • Peter Kemper
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10536)


The World Bank provides billions of dollars in development finance to countries across the world every year. As many projects are related to the environment, we want to understand the World Bank projects impact to forest cover. However, the global extent of these projects results in substantial heterogeneity in impacts due to geographic, cultural, and other factors. Recent research by Athey and Imbens has illustrated the potential for hybrid machine learning and causal inferential techniques which may be able to capture such heterogeneity. We apply their approach using a geolocated dataset of World Bank projects, and augment this data with satellite-retrieved characteristics of their geographic context (including temperature, precipitation, slope, distance to urban areas, and many others). We use this information in conjunction with causal tree (CT) and causal forest (CF) approaches to contrast ‘control’ and ‘treatment’ geographic locations to estimate the impact of World Bank projects on vegetative cover.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianing Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel M. Runfola
    • 2
  • Peter Kemper
    • 1
  1. 1.College of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA
  2. 2.AidDataWilliamsburgUSA

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