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Robust Standard Errors in Small Samples: Some Practical Advice

Author

Listed:
  • Guido W. Imbens

    (Stanford University and NBER)

  • Michal Kolesár

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

We study the properties of heteroskedasticity-robust confidence intervals for regression parameters. We show that confidence intervals based on a degrees-of-freedom correction suggested by Bell and McCaffrey (2002) are a natural extension of a principled approach to the Behrens-Fisher problem. We suggest a further improvement for the case with clustering. We show that these standard errors can lead to substantial improvements in coverage rates even for samples with fifty or more clusters.We recommend that researchers routinely calculate the Bell-McCaffrey degrees-of-freedom adjustment to assess potential problems with conventional robust standard errors.

Suggested Citation

  • Guido W. Imbens & Michal Kolesár, 2016. "Robust Standard Errors in Small Samples: Some Practical Advice," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 701-712, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:98:y:2016:i:4:p:701-712
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Behrens-Fisher Problem; Robust Standard Errors; Small Samples; Clustering;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection

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