Fairness in Missing Data Imputation

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Missing data are ubiquitous in the era of big data and, if inadequately handled, are known to lead to biased findings and have deleterious impact on data-driven decision makings. To mitigate its impact, many missing value imputation methods have been developed. However, the fairness of these imputation methods across sensitive groups has not been studied. In this paper, we conduct the first known research on fairness of missing data imputation. By studying the performance of imputation methods in three commonly used datasets, we demonstrate that unfairness of missing value imputation widely exists and may be associated with multiple factors. Our results suggest that, in practice, a careful investigation of related factors can provide valuable insights on mitigating unfairness associated with missing data imputation.

Ryan Watkins