Partial Identification of Treatment Effects with Implicit Generative Models

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

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Vahid Balazadeh Meresht, Vasilis Syrgkanis, Rahul G. Krishnan


We consider the problem of partial identification, the estimation of bounds on the treatment effects from observational data. Although studied using discrete treatment variables or in specific causal graphs (e.g., instrumental variables), partial identification has been recently explored using tools from deep generative modeling. We propose a new method for partial identification of average treatment effects (ATEs) in general causal graphs using implicit generative models comprising continuous and discrete random variables. Since ATE with continuous treatment is generally non-regular, we leverage the partial derivatives of response functions to define a regular approximation of ATE, a quantity we call uniform average treatment derivative (UATD). We prove that our algorithm converges to tight bounds on ATE in linear structural causal models (SCMs). For nonlinear SCMs, we empirically show that using UATD leads to tighter and more stable bounds than methods that directly optimize the ATE.