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An asymmetry-steepness parameterization of the generalized lambda distribution


  • Chalabi, Yohan / Y.
  • Scott, David J
  • Wuertz, Diethelm


The generalized lambda distribution (GLD) is a versatile distribution that can accommodate a wide range of shapes, including fat-tailed and asymmetric distributions. It is defined by its quantile function. We introduce a more intuitive parameterization of the GLD that expresses the location and scale parameters directly as the median and inter-quartile range of the distribution. The remaining two shape parameters characterize the asymmetry and steepness of the distribution respectively. This is in contrasts to the previous parameterizations where the asymmetry and steepness are described by the combination of the two tail indices. The estimation of the GLD parameters is notoriously difficult. With our parameterization, the fitting of the GLD to empirical data can be reduced to a two-parameter estimation problem where the location and scale parameters are estimated by their robust sample estimators. This approach also works when the moments of the GLD do not exist. Moreover, the new parameterization can be used to compare data sets in a convenient asymmetry and steepness shape plot. In this paper, we derive the new formulation, as well as the conditions of the various distribution shape regions and moment conditions. We illustrate the use of the asymmetry and steepness shape plot by comparing equities from the NASDAQ-100 stock index.

Suggested Citation

  • Chalabi, Yohan / Y. & Scott, David J & Wuertz, Diethelm, 2012. "An asymmetry-steepness parameterization of the generalized lambda distribution," MPRA Paper 37814, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:37814

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Asquith, William H., 2007. "L-moments and TL-moments of the generalized lambda distribution," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(9), pages 4484-4496, May.
    2. Karvanen, Juha & Nuutinen, Arto, 2008. "Characterizing the generalized lambda distribution by L-moments," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 1971-1983, January.
    3. Su, Steve, 2007. "Numerical maximum log likelihood estimation for generalized lambda distributions," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 3983-3998, May.
    4. Fournier, B. & Rupin, N. & Bigerelle, M. & Najjar, D. & Iost, A. & Wilcox, R., 2007. "Estimating the parameters of a generalized lambda distribution," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 2813-2835, March.
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    More about this item


    Quantile distributions; generalized lambda distribution; shape plot representation;

    JEL classification:

    • C16 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Econometric and Statistical Methods; Specific Distributions

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