Identification and Estimation of Joint Probabilities of Potential Outcomes in Observational Studies with Covariate Information

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Ryusei Shingaki, manabu kuroki


The joint probabilities of potential outcomes are fundamental components of causal inference in the sense that (i) if they are identifiable, then the causal risk is also identifiable, but not vise versa (Pearl, 2009; Tian and Pearl, 2000) and (ii) they enable us to evaluate the probabilistic aspects of necessity'',sufficiency'', and ``necessity and sufficiency'', which are important concepts of successful explanation (Watson, et al., 2020). However, because they are not identifiable without any assumptions, various assumptions have been utilized to evaluate the joint probabilities of potential outcomes, e.g., the assumption of monotonicity (Pearl, 2009; Tian and Pearl, 2000), the independence between potential outcomes (Robins and Richardson, 2011), the condition of gain equality (Li and Pearl, 2019), and the specific functional relationships between cause and effect (Pearl, 2009). Unlike existing identification conditions, in order to evaluate the joint probabilities of potential outcomes without such assumptions, this paper proposes two types of novel identification conditions using covariate information. In addition, when the joint probabilities of potential outcomes are identifiable through the proposed conditions, the estimation problem of the joint probabilities of potential outcomes reduces to that of singular models and thus they can not be evaluated by standard statistical estimation methods. To solve the problem, this paper proposes a new statistical estimation method based on the augmented Lagrangian method and shows the asymptotic normality of the proposed estimators. Given space constraints, the proofs, the details on the statistical estimation method, some numerical experiments, and the case study are provided in the supplementary material.