Rebar: Reinforcing a Matching Estimator With Predictions From High-Dimensional Covariates

In causal matching designs, some control subjects are often left unmatched, and some covariates are often left unmodeled. This article introduces “rebar,” a method using high-dimensional modeling to incorporate these commonly discarded data without sacrificing the integrity of the matching design. After constructing a match, a researcher uses the unmatched control subjects-the remnant-to fit a machine learning model predicting control potential outcomes as a function of the full covariate matrix. The resulting predictions in the matched set are used to adjust the causal estimate to reduce confounding bias. We present theoretical results to justify the method's bias-reducing properties as well as a simulation study that demonstrates them. Additionally, we illustrate the method in an evaluation of a school-level comprehensive educational reform program in Arizona.