Using Standard Tools From Finite Population Sampling to Improve Causal Inference for Complex Experiments

Rahul Mukerjee, Tirthankar Dasgupta, Donald B. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This article considers causal inference for treatment contrasts from a randomized experiment using potential outcomes in a finite population setting. Adopting a Neymanian repeated sampling approach that integrates such causal inference with finite population survey sampling, an inferential framework is developed for general mechanisms of assigning experimental units to multiple treatments. This framework extends classical methods by allowing the possibility of randomization restrictions and unequal replications. Novel conditions that are “milder” than strict additivity of treatment effects, yet permit unbiased estimation of the finite population sampling variance of any treatment contrast estimator, are derived. The consequences of departures from such conditions are also studied under the criterion of minimax bias, and a new justification for using the Neymanian conservative sampling variance estimator in experiments is provided. The proposed approach can readily be extended to the case of treatments with a general factorial structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-881
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number522
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


  • Assignment probabilities
  • Linear unbiased estimator
  • Potential outcomes
  • Split-plot design
  • Stratified assignment
  • Treatment contrasts


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