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The problematic estimation of "imitation effects" in multilevel models

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  • Øystein Kravdal

    (University of Oslo)

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    Abstract

    It seems plausible that a person’s demographic behaviour may be influenced by that among other people in the community, for example because of an inclination to imitate. When estimating multilevel models from clustered individual data, some investigators might perhaps feel tempted to try to capture this effect by simply including on the right-hand side the average of the dependent variable, constructed by aggregation within the clusters. However, such modelling must be avoided. According to simulation experiments based on real fertility data from India, the estimated effect of this obviously endogenous variable can be very different from the true effect. Also the other community effect estimates can be strongly biased. An "imitation effect" can only be estimated under very special assumptions that in practice will be hard to defend.

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    File URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol9/2/9-2.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its journal Demographic Research.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 (September)
    Pages: 25-40

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    Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:9:y:2003:i:2

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: bias; endogenous; estimation; imitation effect; models; multilevel; simulation; survey;

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    1. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
    3. Øystein Kravdal, 2002. "Education and fertility in sub-Saharan africa: Individual and community effects," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 233-250, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Øystein Kravdal & Ivy Kodzi, 2011. "Children's stunting in sub-Saharan Africa: Is there an externality effect of high fertility?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(18), pages 565-594, September.
    2. Melinda Mills & Nicoletta Balbo, 2011. "The influence of the family network on the realisation of fertility intentions," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 9(1), pages 179-206.

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