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Logiques et tests d'hypothèses : réflexions sur les problèmes mal posés en économétrie

  • Jean-Marie Dufour

In this text, we review recent developments in econometrics from the viewpoint of statistical test theory. We first review some basic principles of philosophy of science and statistical theory, emphasizing parsimony and falsifiability as criteria for evaluating models, test theory as a formalization of the falsification principle for probabilistic models, and the logical foundation of basic notions in test theory (such as the level of a test). We then show that some of the most frequently used statistical and econometric methods are fundamentally inappropriate for the problems and models considered, while several hypotheses, for which test procedures are commonly proposed, are not testable at all. Such situations lead to ill-defined statistical problems. We analyze several cases of such problems: (1) building confidence intervals in structural models where identification problems may be present; (2) the construction of tests for nonparametric hypotheses, including procedures robust to heteroskedasticity, non-normality or dynamic specification. We point out that these difficulties often originate from the ambition to weaken regularity conditions typically required by statistical analysis, and from an inappropriate use of asymptotic distributional theory. Finally, we underscore the importance of formulating testable hypotheses and models, and of developing econometric methods with provable finite-sample properties. Dans ce texte, nous analysons les développements récents de l'économétrie à la lumière de la théorie des tests statistiques. Nous revoyons d'abord quelques principes fondamentaux de philosophie des sciences et de théorie statistique, en mettant l'accent sur la parcimonie et la falsifiabilité comme critères d'évaluation des modèles, sur le rôle de la théorie des tests comme formalisation du principe de falsification de modèles probabilistes, ainsi que sur la justification logique des notions de base de la théorie des tests (telles que le niveau d'un test). Nous montrons ensuite que certaines des méthodes statistiques et économétriques les plus utilisées sont fondamentalement inappropriées pour les problèmes et modèles considérés, tandis que de nombreuses hypothèses, pour lesquelles des procédures de test sont communément proposées, ne sont en fait pas du tout testables. De telles situations conduisent à des problèmes statistiques mal posés. Nous analysons quelques cas particuliers de tels problèmes: (1) la construction d'intervalles de confiance dans le cadre de modèles structurels qui posent des problèmes d'identification; (2) la construction de tests pour des hypothèses non paramétriques, incluant la construction de procédures robustes à l'hétéroscédasticité, à la non-normalité ou à la spécification dynamique. Nous indiquons que ces difficultés proviennent souvent de l'ambition d'affaiblir les conditions de régularité nécessaires à toute analyse statistique ainsi que d'une utilisation inappropriée de résultats de théorie distributionnelle asymptotique. Enfin, nous soulignons l'importance de formuler des hypothèses et modèles testables, et de proposer des techniques économétriques dont les propriétés sont démontrables dans les échantillons finis.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2001s-40.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 01 May 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2001s-40
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  3. Jean-Marie Dufour & Joanna Jasiak, 2000. "Finite Sample Inference Methods for Simultaneous Equations and Models with Unobserved and Generated Regressors," CIRANO Working Papers 2000s-13, CIRANO.
  4. Nelson, C. & Startz, R., 1988. "The Distribution Of The Instrumental Variables Estimator And Its T-Ratio When The Instrument Is A Poor One," Working Papers 88-07, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
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  7. Gourieroux,Christian & Monfort,Alain, 1995. "Statistics and Econometric Models," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521477451.
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  9. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  10. Peter C.B. Phillips, 1987. "Partially Identified Econometric Models," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 845R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Aug 1988.
  11. Dufour, J.M. & Campbell, B., 1993. "Exact Nonparametric Orthogonality and Random Walk Tests," Cahiers de recherche 9326, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  12. Buse, A, 1992. "The Bias of Instrumental Variable Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 173-80, January.
  13. Campbell, B. & Dufour, J.M., 1994. "Excat Nonparametric Tests of Orthogonality and Random Walk in the Presence of a Drift Parameter," Cahiers de recherche 9407, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  14. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  15. Choi, In & Phillips, Peter C. B., 1992. "Asymptotic and finite sample distribution theory for IV estimators and tests in partially identified structural equations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 113-150.
  16. Donald W.K. Andrews & Christopher J. Monahan, 1990. "An Improved Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 942, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  17. Touhami Abdelkhalek & Jean-Marie Dufour, 1998. "Statistical Inference For Computable General Equilibrium Models, With Application To A Model Of The Moroccan Economy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 520-534, November.
  18. Dufour, Jean-Marie & Jasiak, Joann, 2001. "Finite Sample Limited Information Inference Methods for Structural Equations and Models with Generated Regressors," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 815-43, August.
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  21. Sargan, J D, 1983. "Identification and Lack of Identification," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1605-33, November.
  22. Jon Faust, 1996. "Theoretical confidence level problems with confidence intervals for the spectrum of a time series," International Finance Discussion Papers 575, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. McManus, Douglas A. & Nankervis, John C. & Savin, N. E., 1994. "Multiple optima and asymptotic approximations in the partial adjustment model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 91-128, June.
  24. Dufour, J.M., 1979. "Rank Tests for Serial Dependence," Cahiers de recherche 7815, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  25. Johansen, Soren, 1995. "Likelihood-Based Inference in Cointegrated Vector Autoregressive Models," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774501, July.
  26. Sims, Christopher A, 1971. "Discrete Approximations to Continuous Time Distributed Lags in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(3), pages 545-63, May.
  27. Hall, Alastair R & Rudebusch, Glenn D & Wilcox, David W, 1996. "Judging Instrument Relevance in Instrumental Variables Estimation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(2), pages 283-98, May.
  28. Faust, Jon, 1996. "Near Observational Equivalence and Theoretical size Problems with Unit Root Tests," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 724-731, October.
  29. Jean-Marie Dufour, 1997. "Some Impossibility Theorems in Econometrics with Applications to Structural and Dynamic Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1365-1388, November.
  30. Maddala, G S & Jeong, Jinook, 1992. "On the Exact Small Sample Distribution of the Instrumental Variable Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 181-83, January.
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  33. Jiahui Wang & Eric Zivot, 1998. "Inference on Structural Parameters in Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1389-1404, November.
  34. John Bound & David A. Jaeger & Regina Baker, 1993. "The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease: A Cautionary Tale Regarding Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Blough, Stephen R, 1992. "The Relationship between Power and Level for Generic Unit Root Tests in Finite Samples," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(3), pages 295-308, July-Sept.
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