A Systematic Review of Propensity Score Methods in the Social Sciences

Multivariate Behav Res. 2011 Feb 7;46(1):90-118. doi: 10.1080/00273171.2011.540475.


The use of propensity scores in psychological and educational research has been steadily increasing in the last 2 to 3 years. However, there are some common misconceptions about the use of different estimation techniques and conditioning choices in the context of propensity score analysis. In addition, reporting practices for propensity score analyses often lack important details that allow other researchers to confidently judge the appropriateness of reported analyses and potentially to replicate published findings. In this article we conduct a systematic literature review of a large number of published articles in major areas of social science that used propensity scores up until the fall of 2009. We identify common errors in estimation, conditioning, and reporting of propensity score analyses and suggest possible solutions.