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The Generalizability of Heterogeneous Treatment Effect Estimates Across Samples

The extent to which studies conducted with non-representative convenience samples are generalizable to broader populations depends critically on the level of treatment effect heterogeneity. Recent inquiries have found a strong correspondence between average treatment effects estimated in nationally-representative experiments and in replication studies conducted with convenience samples. In this paper, we consider three possible explanations: low levels of effect heterogeneity, high levels of effect heterogeneity that are unrelated to selection into the convenience sample, or just good luck. We reanalyze 27 original-replication study pairs (encompassing 101,745 individual survey responses) to assess the extent to which subgroup effect estimates generalize. While there are exceptions, the overwhelming pattern that emerges is one of treatment effect homogeneity, providing a partial explanation for strong correspondence across both unconditional and conditional average treatment effect estimates.