Causal Effect Heterogeneity

  • Jennie E. BrandEmail author
  • Juli Simon Thomas
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Individuals differ not only in background characteristics, often called “pretreatment heterogeneity,” but also in how they respond to a particular treatment, event, or intervention. A principal interaction of interest for questions of selection into treatment and causal inference in the social sciences is between the treatment and the propensity of treatment. Although the importance of “treatment-effect heterogeneity,” so defined, has been widely recognized in the causal inference literature, empirical quantitative social science research has not fully absorbed these lessons. In this chapter, we describe key estimation strategies for the study of heterogeneous treatment effects; we discuss recent research that attends to causal effect heterogeneity, with a focus on the study of effects of education, and what we gain from such attention; and we demonstrate the methods with an example of the effects of college on civic participation. The primary goal of this chapter is to encourage researchers to routinely examine treatment-effect heterogeneity with the same rigor they devote to pretreatment heterogeneity.


Propensity Score Propensity Score Match Effect Heterogeneity Civic Participation Charitable Organization 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and California Center for Population ResearchUniversity of California – Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of California – Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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