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How Large is Large? Preliminary and relative guidelines for interpreting partial correlations in economics

  • Hristos Doucouliagos

    ()

An essential part of empirical economics research is the identification of the size of an empirical effect. Partial correlations offer a convenient statistically based measure of the strength of an economic relationship. A key question arises in their interpretation: When is a partial correlation large? This paper draws upon the observed distribution of 22,000 partial correlations from a diverse group of economics fields. The median absolute partial correlation from these fields is 0.173, which under Cohen’s (1988) conventional guidelines for zero order correlations is a small to moderate effect. The paper develops new guidelines for key qualitative categories (small, medium and large). According to the new guidelines, partial correlations that are larger than ± 0.33 can be deemed to be large. This is considerably different to Cohen’s guideline of ±0.50 for zero order correlations. Researchers and meta-analysts should exercise caution when applying Cohen’s guidelines to describe the importance of partial correlations in economics.

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File URL: http://www.deakin.edu.au/buslaw/aef/workingpapers/papers/2011_5.pdf
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Paper provided by Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance in its series Economics Series with number 2011_5.

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Date of creation: 04 Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:dkn:econwp:eco_2011_5
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  1. Lenth R. V., 2001. "Some Practical Guidelines for Effective Sample Size Determination," The American Statistician, American Statistical Association, vol. 55, pages 187-193, August.
  2. Djankov, Simeon & Murrell, Peter, 2002. "Enterprise Restructuring in Transition: A Quantitative Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 3319, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  5. Hristos Doucouliagos & T.D. Stanley, 2008. "Theory Competition and Selectivity: Are All Economic Facts Greatly Exaggerated?," Economics Series 2008_06, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  6. Chris Doucouliagos, 1995. "Worker participation and productivity in labor-managed and participatory capitalist firms: A meta-analysis," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(1), pages 58-77, October.
  7. Hristos Doucouliagos & Martin Paldam, 2005. "Aid Effectiveness on Growth. A Meta Study," Economics Working Papers 2005-13, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  8. Hristos Doucouliagos & Janto Haman & T.D. Stanley, 2010. "Pay for Performance and Corporate Governance Reform," Economics Series 2010_04, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  9. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  10. Laura de Dominicis & Raymond J. G. M. Florax & Henri L. F. de Groot, 2008. "A Meta-Analysis On The Relationship Between Income Inequality And Economic Growth," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 55(5), pages 654-682, November.
  11. Michael Weisbach, 2010. "Corporate Governance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number weis10-1, October.
  12. Bellavance, Franois & Dionne, Georges & Lebeau, Martin, 2009. "The value of a statistical life: A meta-analysis with a mixed effects regression model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 444-464, March.
  13. McCloskey, Donald N, 1985. "The Loss Function Has Been Mislaid: The Rhetoric of Significance Tests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 201-05, May.
  14. Jarko Fidrmuc & Iikka Korhonen, 2006. "Meta-Analysis of the Business Cycle Correlation between the Euro Area and the CEECs," CESifo Working Paper Series 1693, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. T.D. Stanley, 2006. "Meta-Regression Methods for Detecting and Estimating Empirical Effects in the Presence of Publication Selection," Economics Series 2006_20, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
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