Working papers

Model averaging and double machine learning

With Christian B Hansen, Mark E Schaffer, Thomas Wiemann     (Under review)

Abstract:   This paper discusses pairing double/debiased machine learning (DDML) with stacking, a model averaging method for combining multiple candidate learners, to estimate structural parameters. We introduce two new stacking approaches for DDML: short-stacking exploits the cross-fitting step of DDML to substantially reduce the computational burden and pooled stacking enforces common stacking weights over cross-fitting folds. Using calibrated simulation studies and two applications estimating gender gaps in citations and wages, we show that DDML with stacking is more robust to partially unknown functional forms than common alternative approaches based on single pre-selected learners. We provide Stata and R software implementing our proposals.

Optimal treatment allocation using policy trees: An application to immigrant naturalization

With Alessandra Stampi-Bombelli, Dominik Hangartner, Selina Kurer     (Journal of Applied Econometrics, R&R)

Abstract:   Research shows that naturalization can improve the socio-economic integration of immigrants, yet many immigrants do not seek to apply. We estimate a policy rule for a letter-based information campaign encouraging newly eligible immigrants in Zurich, Switzerland, to naturalize. The policy rule is a decision tree assigning treatment letters for each individual based on observed characteristics. We assess performance by fielding the policy rule to one-half of 1,717 immigrants, while sending random treatment letters to the other half. Despite only moderate levels of heterogeneity, the policy tree yields a larger, albeit insignificant, increase in application rates than each individual treatment.

The Labor Market Effects of Restricting Refugees’ Employment Opportunities

With Andreas Beerli, Selina Kurer, Dominik Hangartner, Michael Siegenthaler     (Under review)

Abstract:   This paper investigates whether employment restrictions contribute to refugees having poorer labor market outcomes than citizens. Utilizing linked register data from Switzerland and within-canton policy variation between 1999-2015, we find substantial negative effects on employment and earnings when refugees are barred from working upon arrival, restricted from specific sectors or regions, or face resident prioritization. Removing 10% of refugees' outside options reduces job-to-job mobility by 7.5% and wages by 3.0%, widening the wage gap to citizens in similar jobs. The restrictions depress refugees' labor market outcomes even after they apply, but do not spur emigration nor benefit other immigrants.

Cash-Based Interventions Improve Multidimensional Integration Outcomes of Venezuelan Immigrants

With Marine Casalis, Dominik Hangartner, Rodrigo Sánchez     (World Development, R&R)

Abstract:   Since 2015, over 7 million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their homes, seeking refuge predominantly in neighboring countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. The displacement is typically accompanied by vulnerability and marginalization, yet there is a scarcity of actionable evidence on how to alleviate poverty among immigrants and refugees and facilitate their economic, political, and social integration. This study evaluates the impact of a cash-based intervention (CBI) on multidimensional integration outcomes of highly vulnerable Venezuelan immigrants in Peru. Utilizing an original panel survey of beneficiaries and the staggered rollout of the program, which provided a one-time payment of 760 soles (approximately 190 USD or 74% of the monthly minimum wage), we estimate that the CBI increased the IPL-24 index--an overall measure of immigrant integration capturing several dimensions--by at least 0.12 standard deviations. This increase is mainly driven by improvements in the navigational, social and economic components of the IPL-24 index. Moreover, the CBI boosted self-employment by 2 percentage points and raised the intention to emigrate from Peru by 1.2 percentage points. Additionally, our heterogeneity analysis reveals that the benefits of the fixed-amount cash payment diminish significantly with the size of the household. We discuss how these findings inform the design of future CBI programs aimed at supporting vulnerable immigrant and refugee families.


Welfare Benefits and Refugee Crime

With Daniel Auer, Michaela Slotwinski, Dominik Hangartner, Selina Kurer, Stefanie Kurt, Alois Stutzer

Path2Work: Targeted support of job search for refugees using an online job platform

With Mirjam Bächli, Dominik Hangartner, Rafael Lalive

Incentive or Impediment? The Short- and Long-Term Impact of Low Welfare Support on Refugee Integration

With Dominik Hangartner, Selina Kurer, Michael Siegenthaler