A Comprehensive History of Regression Discontinuity Designs: An Empirical Survey of the last 60 Years

Autor o Editor
Mauricio Villamizar-Villegas
Freddy A. Pinzón-Puerto
María Alejandra Ruiz-Sánchez

The series Borradores de Economía (Working Papers on Economics) contributes to the dissemination and promotion of the work by researchers from the institution. On multiple occasions, these works have been the result of collaborative work with individuals from other national or international institutions. This series is indexed at Research Papers in Economics (RePEc)

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In this paper we detail the entire Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) history, including its origins in the 1960's, and its two main waves of formalization in the 1970's and 2000's, both of which are rarely acknowledged in the literature. Also, we dissect the empirical work into fuzzy and sharp designs and provide some intuition as to why some rule-based criteria produce imperfect compliance. Finally, we break the literature down by economic field, highlighting the main outcomes, treatments, and running variables employed. Overall, we see some topics in economics gaining importance through time, like the cases of: health, finance, crime, environment, and political economy. In particular, we highlight applications in finance as the most novel. Nonetheless, we recognize that the field of education stands out as the uncontested RDD champion through time, with the greatest number of empirical applications.