11
Aug 17

## Violations of classical assumptions

This will be a simple post explaining the common observation that "in Economics, variability of many variables is proportional to those variables". Make sure to review the assumptions; they tend to slip from memory. We consider the simple regression

(1) $y_i=a+bx_i+e_i.$

One of classical assumptions is

Homoscedasticity. All errors have the same variances$Var(e_i)=\sigma^2$ for all $i$.

We discuss its opposite, which is

Heteroscedasticity. Not all errors have the same variance. It would be wrong to write it as $Var(e_i)\ne\sigma^2$ for all $i$ (which means that all errors have variance different from $\sigma^2$). You can write that not all $Var(e_i)$ are the same but it's better to use the verbal definition.

Remark about Video 1. The dashed lines can represent mean consumption. Then the fact that variation of a variable grows with its level becomes more obvious.

Video 1. Case for heteroscedasticity

Figure 1. Illustration from Dougherty: as x increases, variance of the error term increases

Homoscedasticity was used in the derivation of the OLS estimator variance; under heteroscedasticity that expression is no longer valid. There are other implications, which will be discussed later.

Companies example. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery fires and explosions that caused two recalls cost the smartphone maker at least $5 billion. There is no way a small company could have such losses. GDP example. The error in measuring US GDP is on the order of$200 bln, which is comparable to the Kazakhstan GDP. However, the standard deviation of the ratio error/GDP seems to be about the same across countries, if the underground economy is not too big. Often the assumption that the standard deviation of the regression error is proportional to one of regressors is plausible.

To see if the regression error is heteroscedastic, you can look at the graph of the residuals or use statistical tests.

8
Jan 17

## OLS estimator variance

### Assumptions about simple regression

We consider the simple regression

(1) $y_i=a+bx_i+e_i$

Here we derived the OLS estimators of the intercept and slope:

(2) $\hat{b}=\frac{Cov_u(x,y)}{Var_u(x)}$,

(3) $\hat{a}=\bar{y}-\hat{b}\bar{x}$.

A1. Existence condition. Since division by zero is not allowed, for (2) to exist we require $Var_u(x)\ne 0$. If this condition is not satisfied, then there is no variance in $x$ and all observed points are on the vertical line.

A2. Convenience condition. The regressor $x$ is deterministic. This condition is imposed to be able to apply the properties of expectation, see equation (7) in  this post. The time trend and dummy variables are examples of deterministic regressors. However, most real-life regressors are stochastic. Modifying the theory in order to cover stochastic regressors is the subject of two posts: finite-sample theory and large-sample theory.

A3. Unbiasedness condition$Ee_i=0$. This is the main assumption that makes sure that OLS estimators are unbiased, see equation (7) in  this post.

### Unbiasedness is not enough

Unbiasedness characterizes the quality of an estimator, see the intuitive explanation. Unfortunately, unbiasedness is not enough to choose the best estimator because of nonuniqueness: usually, if there is one unbiased estimator of a parameter, then there are infinitely many unbiased estimators of the same parameter. For example, we know that the sample mean $\bar{X}$ unbiasedly estimates the population mean $E\bar{X}=EX$. Since $EX_1=EX$ ($X_1$ is the first observation), we can easily construct an infinite family of unbiased estimators $Y=(\bar{X}+aX_1)/(1+a)$, assuming $a\ne -1$. Indeed, using linearity of expectation $EY=(E\bar{X}+aEX_1)/(1+a)=EX$.

Variance is another measure of an estimator quality: to have a lower spread of estimator values, among competing estimators we choose the one which has the lowest variance. Knowing the estimator variance allows us to find the z-score and use statistical tables.

### Slope estimator variance

It is not difficult to find the variance of the slope estimator using representation (6) derived here:

$\hat{b}=b+\frac{1}{n}\sum a_ie_i$

where $a_i=(x_i-\bar{x})/Var_u(x).$

Don't try to apply directly the definition of variance at this point, because there will be a square of a sum, which leads to a double sum upon squaring. We need two new assumptions.

A4. Uncorrelatedness of errors. Assume that $Cov(e_i,e_j)=0$ for all $i\ne j$ (errors from different equations (1) are uncorrelated). Note that because of the unbiasedness condition, this assumption is equivalent to $Ee_ie_j=0$ for all $i\ne j$. This assumption is likely to be satisfied if we observe consumption patterns of unrelated individuals.

A5. Homoscedasticity. All errors have the same variances$Var(e_i)=\sigma^2$ for all $i$. Again, because of the unbiasedness condition, this assumption is equivalent to $Ee_i^2=\sigma^2$ for all $i$.

Now we can derive the variance expression, using properties from this post:

$Var(\hat{b})=Var(b+\frac{1}{n}\sum_i a_ie_i)$ (dropping a constant doesn't affect variance)

$=Var(\frac{1}{n}\sum_i a_ie_i)$ (for uncorrelated variables, variance is additive)

$=\sum_i Var(\frac{1}{n}a_ie_i)$ (variance is homogeneous of degree 2)

$=\frac{1}{n^2}\sum_i a_i^2Var(e_i)$ (applying homoscedasticity)

$=\frac{1}{n^2}\sum_i a_i^2\sigma^2$ (plugging $a_i$)

$=\frac{1}{n^2}\sum_i(x_i-\bar{x})^2\sigma^2/Var^2_u(x)$ (using the notation of sample variance)

$=\frac{1}{n}Var_u(x)\sigma^2/Var^2_u(x)=\sigma^2/(nVar_u(x)).$

Note that canceling out two variances in the last line is obvious. It is not so obvious for some if instead of the short notation for variances you use summation signs. The case of the intercept variance is left as an exercise.

### Conclusion

The above assumptions A1-A5 are called classical. It is necessary to remember their role in derivations because a considerable part of Econometrics is devoted to deviations from classical assumptions. Once you have a certain assumption violated, you should expect the corresponding estimator property invalidated. For example, if $Ee_i\ne 0$, you should expect the estimators to be biased. If any of A4-A5 is not true, the formula we have derived

$Var(\hat{b})=\sigma^2/(nVar_u(x))$

will not hold. Besides, the Gauss-Markov theorem that the OLS estimators are efficient will not hold (this will be discussed later). The pair A4-A5 can be called an efficiency condition.