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Fixed and random effects models: making an informed choice
University of Sheffield. (Sheffield Methods Institute)
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1400-2141
University of Bristol.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8398-2190
2019 (English)In: Quality and quantity, ISSN 0033-5177, E-ISSN 1573-7845, Vol. 53, no 2, p. 1051-1074Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper assesses the options available to researchers analysing multilevel (including longitudinal) data, with the aim of supporting good methodological decision-making. Given the confusion in the literature about the key properties of fixed and random effects (FE and RE) models, we present these models’ capabilities and limitations. We also discuss the within-between RE model, sometimes misleadingly labelled a ‘hybrid’ model, showing that it is the most general of the three, with all the strengths of the other two. As such, and because it allows for important extensions—notably random slopes—we argue it should be used (as a starting point at least) in all multilevel analyses. We develop the argument through simulations, evaluating how these models cope with some likely mis-specifications. These simulations reveal that (1) failing to include random slopes can generate anti-conservative standard errors, and (2) assuming random intercepts are Normally distributed, when they are not, introduces only modest biases. These results strengthen the case for the use of, and need for, these models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2019. Vol. 53, no 2, p. 1051-1074
Keywords [en]
multilevel models, random effects, fixed effects
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-150953DOI: 10.1007/s11135-018-0802-xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-150953DiVA, id: diva2:1240252
Available from: 2018-08-20 Created: 2018-08-20 Last updated: 2019-04-04Bibliographically approved

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Fairbrother, Malcolm

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