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Spurious Correlation and the Fallacy of the Ratio Standard Revisited

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  • Richard A. Kronmal

Abstract

Spurious correlation refers to the correlation between indices that have a common component. A ‘per ratio’ standard is based on a biological measurement adjusted for some physical measurement by division. Renowned statisticians and biologists (Pearson, Neyman and Tanner) have warned about the problems in interpretation that ratios cause. This warning has been largely ignored. The consequences of using a single ratio as either the dependent or one of the independent variables in a multiple‐regression analysis are described. It is shown that the use of ratios in regression analyses can lead to incorrect or misleading inferences. A recommendation is made that the use of ratios in regression analyses be avoided.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard A. Kronmal, 1993. "Spurious Correlation and the Fallacy of the Ratio Standard Revisited," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 156(3), pages 379-392, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssa:v:156:y:1993:i:3:p:379-392
    DOI: 10.2307/2983064
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