On the Role of Covariates in the Synthetic Control Method

Irene Botosaru, Bruno Ferman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)
323 Downloads (Pure)


Abadie et al. (2010) derive bounds on the bias of the Synthetic Control estimator under a perfect balance assumption on both observed covariates and pretreatment outcomes. In the absence of a perfect balance on covariates, we show that it is still possible to derive such bounds, but at the expense of relying on stronger assumptions on the effects of observed and unobserved covariates, and of generating looser bounds. We also show that a perfect balance on pre-treatment outcomes does not generally imply an approximate balance for all covariates, even when they are all relevant. Our results have important implications for the implementation of the method.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberutz001
JournalEconometrics Journal
Early online date29 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2019

Structured keywords

  • ECON Econometrics
  • ECON CEPS Data


  • synthetic controls
  • covariates
  • perfect balance


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