Does enforcing fairness mitigate biases caused by subpopulation shift?Download PDF

21 May 2021, 20:48 (edited 26 Oct 2021)NeurIPS 2021 PosterReaders: Everyone
  • Keywords: algorithmic fairness, domain adaptation, sub-population shift, fairness accuracy trade-off
  • TL;DR: The paper presents a precise characterization of trade-off between accuracy and fairness under sub-population shift.
  • Abstract: Many instances of algorithmic bias are caused by subpopulation shifts. For example, ML models often perform worse on demographic groups that are underrepresented in the training data. In this paper, we study whether enforcing algorithmic fairness during training improves the performance of the trained model in the \emph{target domain}. On one hand, we conceive scenarios in which enforcing fairness does not improve performance in the target domain. In fact, it may even harm performance. On the other hand, we derive necessary and sufficient conditions under which enforcing algorithmic fairness leads to the Bayes model in the target domain. We also illustrate the practical implications of our theoretical results in simulations and on real data.
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