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      Designing Difference in Difference Studies: Best Practices for Public Health Policy Research

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      Annual Review of Public Health

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          Abstract

          The difference in difference (DID) design is a quasi-experimental research design that researchers often use to study causal relationships in public health settings where randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are infeasible or unethical. However, causal inference poses many challenges in DID designs. In this article, we review key features of DID designs with an emphasis on public health policy research. Contemporary researchers should take an active approach to the design of DID studies, seeking to construct comparison groups, sensitivity analyses, and robustness checks that help validate the method's assumptions. We explain the key assumptions of the design and discuss analytic tactics, supplementary analysis, and approaches to statistical inference that are often important in applied research. The DID design is not a perfect substitute for randomized experiments, but it often represents a feasible way to learn about casual relationships. We conclude by noting that combining elements from multiple quasi-experimental techniques may be important in the next wave of innovations to the DID approach.

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          Most cited references 74

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          Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors

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            An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Units

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              Robust Inference With Multiway Clustering

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Public Health
                Annu. Rev. Public Health
                Annual Reviews
                0163-7525
                1545-2093
                April 2018
                April 2018
                : 39
                : 1
                : 453-469
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA;,
                [2 ]School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA, and National Bureau of Economic Research;
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040617-013507
                29328877
                © 2018

                Social policy & Welfare, Medicine, Psychology, Engineering, Public health, Life sciences

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