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Mixtures of g-priors for Bayesian model averaging with economic applications

  • Ley, Eduardo
  • Steel, Mark F.J.

We examine the issue of variable selection in linear regression modelling, where we have a potentially large amount of possible covariates and economic theory offers insufficient guidance on how to select the appropriate subset. In this context, Bayesian Model Averaging presents a formal Bayesian solution to dealing with model uncertainty. Our main interest here is the effect of the prior on the results, such as posterior inclusion probabilities of regressors and predictive performance. We combine a Binomial-Beta prior on model size with a g-prior on the coefficients of each model. In addition, we assign a hyperprior to g, as the choice of g has been found to have a large impact on the results. For the prior on g, we examine the Zellner-Siow prior and a class of Beta shrinkage priors, which covers most choices in the recent literature. We propose a benchmark Beta prior, inspired by earlier findings with fixed g, and show it leads to consistent model selection. The effect of this prior structure on penalties for complexity and lack of fit is described in some detail. Inference is conducted through a Markov chain Monte Carlo sampler over model space and g. We examine the performance of the various priors in the context of simulated and real data. For the latter, we consider two important applications in economics, namely cross-country growth regression and returns to schooling. Recommendations to applied users are provided.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Econometrics.

Volume (Year): 171 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 251-266

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Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:171:y:2012:i:2:p:251-266
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jeconom

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  1. Feldkircher, Martin & Zeugner, Stefan, 2010. "The Impact of Data Revisions on the Robustness of Growth Determinants - A Note on 'Determinants of Economic Growth. Will Data Tell?'," Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2010-12, University of Salzburg.
  2. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark Steel, 2001. "Model uncertainty in cross-country growth regressions," Econometrics 0110002, EconWPA.
  3. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf & Kenneth D. West, 2003. "Policy Evaluation in Uncertain Economic Environments," NBER Working Papers 10025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," NBER Working Papers 7750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Carlos M. Carvalho & Nicholas G. Polson & James G. Scott, 2010. "The horseshoe estimator for sparse signals," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 97(2), pages 465-480.
  6. Carmen Fernandez & Mark F. J. Steel, 2004. "Bayesian Regression Analysis with scale mixtures of normals," ESE Discussion Papers 27, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Martin Feldkircher & Stefan Zeugner, 2009. "Benchmark Priors Revisited:on Adaptive Shrinkage and the Supermodel Effect in Bayesian Model Averaging," IMF Working Papers 09/202, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Ley, Eduardo & Steel, Mark F.J., 2008. "On the Effect of Prior Assumptions in Bayesian Model Averaging with Applications to Growth Regression," MPRA Paper 6773, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Jan 2008.
  9. Gneiting, Tilmann & Raftery, Adrian E., 2007. "Strictly Proper Scoring Rules, Prediction, and Estimation," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 102, pages 359-378, March.
  10. Ciccone, Antonio & Jarociński, Marek, 2008. "Determinants of economic growth: will data tell?," Working Paper Series 0852, European Central Bank.
  11. Liang, Feng & Paulo, Rui & Molina, German & Clyde, Merlise A. & Berger, Jim O., 2008. "Mixtures of g Priors for Bayesian Variable Selection," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103, pages 410-423, March.
  12. David J. Nott & Robert Kohn, 2005. "Adaptive sampling for Bayesian variable selection," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 92(4), pages 747-763, December.
  13. Theo Eicher & Chris Papageogiou & Adrian E Raftery, 2007. "Default Priors and Predictive Performance in Bayesian Model Averaging, with Application to Growth Determinants," Working Papers UWEC-2007-25-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  14. Justin L. Tobias & Mingliang Li, 2004. "Returns to Schooling and Bayesian Model Averaging: A Union of Two Literatures," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 153-180, 04.
  15. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark F.J. Steel, 1998. "Benchmark Priors for Bayesian Model Averaging," Econometrics 9804001, EconWPA, revised 31 Jul 1999.
  16. Eduardo Ley & Mark F.J. Steel, 2009. "On the effect of prior assumptions in Bayesian model averaging with applications to growth regression This article was published online on 30 March 2009. An error was subsequently identified. This not," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 651-674.
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