Unbiased estimation for additive exposure models


Causal inference methods have been applied in various fields where researchers want to estimate treatment effects. In traditional causal inference settings, one assumes that the outcome of a unit does not depend on treatments of other units. However, as causal inference methods are extended to more applications, there is a greater need for estimators of general causal effects. We use an exposure mapping framework [Aronow and Samii, 2017] to map the relationship between the treatment allocation and the potential outcomes. Under the exposure model, we propose linear unbiased estimators (LUEs) for general causal effects under the assumption that treatment effects are additive. Additivity provides statistical advantages, where contrasts in exposures are now equivalent, and so the set of estimators considered grows. We identify a subset of LUEs that forms an affine basis for LUEs, and we characterize optimal LUEs with minimum integrated variance through defining conditions on the support of the estimator. We show, through simulations that our proposed estimators are fairly robust to violations of the additivity assumption, and in general, there is benefit in leveraging information from all exposures.