Comparative Regression Discontinuity and Regression Discontinuity as Alternatives to Randomized Control Trials: Evidence from BOND
In this paper we use data from an evaluation of the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) to evaluate the efficacy of using comparative regression discontinuity (CRD) and regression discontinuity (RD) relative to a randomized controlled trial (RCT). BOND is a large demonstration intended to promote return to work among people with disabilities who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (DI). RD is known as a relatively rigorous non-experimental method but produces imprecise results that apply to small populations. CRD is a promising enhancement that addresses these issues. The CRD and RD methods are potentially attractive because they can be used in contexts where RCTs are challenging or infeasible. However, the bias of findings from CRD and RD studies is unknown in the context of DI. In this paper, we estimate CRD and RD models using simulated assignment to the BOND treatment group based on duration of DI receipt at the start of BOND. We compare the CRD and RD estimates to RCT estimates. While the findings from this paper are not intended to revise the well-established evidence evaluating BOND, they can be used to help with interpretation of results from CRD and RD studies on other income support interventions for people with disabilities and to inform future study designs.nOur paper has two key limitations. First, our RD models are far from ideal. This limits the degree to which our RD results generalize to what would be found with state-of-the art RD models. Second, our results may not generalize to other populations. Our analysis was based on BOND beneficiaries who were representative of the larger DI population at the time of BOND random assignment but may not reflect the DI population in more recent years.