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What Do Books in the Home Proxy For?: A Cautionary Tale
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
2016 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A large body of work in the social sciences relies on proxy variables to capture the influence of an unobserved regressor. Assuming that measurement error is well approximated by a classical model implying bias toward the null, proxies that explain a larger amount of variance in the regression are routinely preferred. I show how this reasoning can mislead, examining a widely used predictor of student achievement: the self-reported number of books at home. Underreporting by low achievers and endogeneity of parental inputs both contribute an upward bias, large enough to overturn the classical attenuation result and lead to spurious inferences. The findings serve as a caution against overreliance on standard assumptions and cast doubton predictive power as a criterion for proxy selection.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University , 2016. , 28 p.
Series
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 2016/1
Keyword [en]
education, equality of opportunity, socioeconomic status, proxy variables, differential measurement error; JEL: C81, I21, I24, J62
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127978OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-127978DiVA: diva2:911974
Available from: 2016-03-15 Created: 2016-03-15 Last updated: 2016-12-19Bibliographically approved

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Engzell, Per
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • vancouver
  • Other style
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  • de-DE
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
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