IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The problematic estimation of "imitation effects" in multilevel models


  • Øystein Kravdal

    (Universitetet i Oslo)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Øystein Kravdal, 2003. "The problematic estimation of "imitation effects" in multilevel models," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(2), pages 25-40, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:9:y:2003:i:2

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Øystein Kravdal, 2002. "Education and fertility in sub-Saharan africa: Individual and community effects," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(2), pages 233-250, May.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ankita Mishra & Jaai Parasnis, 2014. "An Empirical Investigation of Peer effects on Fertility Preferences," Monash Economics Working Papers 34-14, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:spr:soinre:v:134:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1431-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. 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.

    More about this item


    bias; endogenous; estimation; imitation effect; models; multilevel model; simulation; survey;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:9:y:2003:i:2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Editorial Office). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.