Robust estimation of encouragement design intervention effects transported across sites

Kara Rudolph, Mark J. van der Laan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We develop robust targeted maximum likelihood estimators (TMLEs) for transporting intervention effects from one population to another. Specifically, we develop TMLEs for three transported estimands: the intent-to-treat average treatment effect (ATE) and complier ATE, which are relevant for encouragement design interventions and instrumental variable analyses, and the ATE of the exposure on the outcome, which is applicable to any randomized or observational study. We demonstrate finite sample performance of these TMLEs by using simulation, including in the presence of practical violations of the positivity assumption. We then apply these methods to the ‘Moving to opportunity’ trial: a multisite, encouragement design intervention in which families in public housing were randomized to receive housing vouchers and logistical support to move to low poverty neighbourhoods. This application sheds light on whether effect differences across sites can be explained by differences in population composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1525
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B: Statistical Methodology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Causal inference
  • External validity
  • Instrumental variables
  • Policy intervention
  • Targeted maximum likelihood estimation
  • Transportability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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