Sunday, March 3, 2019

Standard Errors for Things that Matter

Many times in applied / empirical seminars I have seen something like this:

The paper estimates a parameter vector b and dutifully reports asymptotic s.e.'s.  But then the ultimate object of interest turns out not to be b, but rather some nonlinear but continuous function of the elements of b, say c = f(b). So the paper calculates and reports an estimate of c as c_hat = f(b_hat).  Fine, insofar as c_hat is consistent if b_hat is consistent.  But then the paper forgets to calculate an asymptotic s.e. for c_hat.

So c is the object of interest, and hundreds, maybe thousands, of person-hours are devoted to producing a point estimate of c, but then no one remembers (cares?) to assess its estimation uncertainty.  Geez.  Of course one could do delta method, simulation, etc.

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