Margit Tavits in APSR: Fixed Effects and Post-Treatment Bias in Legacy Studies

Congratulations to Margit Tavits whose co-authored paper "Fixed Effects and Post-Treatment Bias in Legacy Studies" has been published in the American Political Science Review. The paper is co-authored with Jonathan Homola and Miguel M. Pereira. The paper can be read here

Abstract: Pepinsky, Goodman, and Ziller (2024, American Political Science Review, PGZ) reassess a recent study on the long-term consequences of concentration camps in Germany. The authors conclude that accounting for contemporary (i.e., post-treatment) state heterogeneity in the models provides unbiased estimates of the effects of camps on current-day outgroup intolerance. In this note, we show that PGZ’s empirical strategy rests on (a) a mischaracterization of what regional fixed effects capture and (b) two unrealistic assumptions that can be avoided with pre-treatment state fixed effects. We further demonstrate that results from the original article remain substantively the same when we incorporate regional fixed effects correctly. Finally, simulations reveal that camp proximity consistently outperforms spatially correlated noise in this specific study. The note contributes to the growing literature on legacy studies by advancing the discussion about the correct modeling choices in this challenging field.