Country effects in ISSP-1993 environmental data: Comparison of SEM approaches
Structural equation models (SEM) are commonly used to analyze the relationship between variables some of which may be latent, such as individual ``attitude'' to and ``behavior'' concerning specific issues. A number of difficulties arise when we want to compare a large number of groups, each with large sample size, and the manifest variables are distinctly non-normally distributed. Using an specific data set, we evaluate the appropriateness of the following alternative SEM approaches: multiple group versus MIMIC models, continuous versus ordinal variables estimation methods, and normal theory versus non-normal estimation methods. The approaches are applied to the ISSP-1993 Environmental data set, with the purpose of exploring variation in the mean level of variables of ``attitude'' to and ``behavior'' concerning environmental issues and their mutual relationship across countries. Issues of both theoretical and practical relevance arise in the course of this application.
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