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How Robust Standard Errors Expose Methodological Problems They Do Not Fix, and What to Do About It

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  • King, Gary
  • Roberts, Margaret E.

Abstract

"Robust standard errors" are used in a vast array of scholarship to correct standard errors for model misspecification. However, when misspecification is bad enough to make classical and robust standard errors diverge, assuming that it is nevertheless not so bad as to bias everything else requires considerable optimism. And even if the optimism is warranted, settling for a misspecified model, with or without robust standard errors, will still bias estimators of all but a few quantities of interest. The resulting cavernous gap between theory and practice suggests that considerable gains in applied statistics may be possible. We seek to help researchers realize these gains via a more productive way to understand and use robust standard errors; a new general and easier-to-use "generalized information matrix test" statistic that can formally assess misspecification (based on differences between robust and classical variance estimates); and practical illustrations via simulations and real examples from published research. How robust standard errors are used needs to change, but instead of jettisoning this popular tool we show how to use it to provide effective clues about model misspecification, likely biases, and a guide to considerably more reliable, and defensible, inferences. Accompanying this article [soon!] is software that implements the methods we describe.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • King, Gary & Roberts, Margaret E., 2015. "How Robust Standard Errors Expose Methodological Problems They Do Not Fix, and What to Do About It," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(02), pages 159-179, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:polals:v:23:y:2015:i:02:p:159-179_01
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    Cited by:

    1. Falko Fecht & Kjell G. Nyborg & Jörg Rocholl & Jiri Woschitz, 2016. "Collateral, Central Bank Repos, and Systemic Arbitrage," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 16-66, Swiss Finance Institute.
    2. Rui Menezes & Sonia Bentes, 2016. "Hysteresis and Duration Dependence of Financial Crises in the US: Evidence from 1871-2016," Papers 1610.00259, arXiv.org.
    3. Narain, Kimberly & Bitler, Marianne & Ponce, Ninez & Kominski, Gerald & Ettner, Susan, 2017. "The impact of welfare reform on the health insurance coverage, utilization and health of low education single mothers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 28-35.
    4. Chhorn, Theara & Chhorn, Dina, 2017. "Modelling Linkage of Globalization and Financial Development to Human Development in CLMV Region," MPRA Paper 84878, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Nov 2017.
    5. repec:wsi:jdexxx:v:22:y:2017:i:02:n:s108494671750011x is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2017. "Explaining Central Bank Trust in an Inflation Targeting Country: The Case of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand," ifo Working Paper Series 236, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    7. Jäger, Kai, 2016. "The Role of Regime Type in the Political Economy of Foreign Reserve Accumulation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 79-96.
    8. repec:eee:jmvana:v:165:y:2018:i:c:p:101-116 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Brown, Richard S., 2016. "Lobbying, political connectedness and financial performance in the air transportation industry," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 61-69.

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