### Stata Annotated Output Robust Regression

Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression is an extremely useful, easily interpretable statistical method.  However, it is not perfect.  When running an OLS regression, you want to be aware of its sensitivity to outliers.  By "sensitivity to outliers", we mean that an OLS regression model can at times be highly affected by a few records in the dataset and can then yield results that do not accurately reflect the relationship between the outcome variable and the predictor variables seen in the rest of the records.  Robust regression offers an alternative to OLS regression that is less sensitive to outliers and still defines a linear relationship between the outcome and the predictors. Note that robust regression does not address leverage.

This page shows an example of robust regression analysis in Stata with footnotes explaining the output.  We will use the crime data set.  This dataset appears in Statistical Methods for Social Sciences, Third Edition by Alan Agresti and Barbara Finlay (Prentice Hall, 1997).  The variables are state id (sid), state name (state), violent crimes per 100,000 people (crime), murders per 1,000,000 people(murder), the percent of the population living in metropolitan areas (pctmetro), the percent of the population that is white (pctwhite), percent of population with a high school education or above (pcths), percent of population living under poverty line (poverty), and percent of population that are single parents (single).  We will drop the observation for Washington, D.C. (sid=51) because it is not a state.

use http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/webbooks/reg/crime, clear
drop if sid == 51

To determine if a robust regression model would be appropriate, OLS regression is a good starting point.  After running the regression, postestimation graphing techniques and an examination of the model residuals can be implemented to determine if there are any points in the data that might influence the regression results disproportionately.  The commands for an OLS regression, predicting crime with poverty and single, and a postestimation graph appear below.  Details for interpreting this graph and other methods for detecting high influence points can be found in the Robust Regression Data Analysis Example.  We will be interested in the residuals from this regression when looking at our robust regression, so we have added a predict command and generated a variable containing the absolute value of the OLS residuals.

regress crime poverty single
lvr2plot, mlabel(state)
predict r1, rstandard
gen absr1 = abs(r1)

The same model can be run as a robust regression.  Robust regression works by first fitting the OLS regression model from above and identifying the records that have a Cook's distance greater than 1.  Then, a regression is run in which those records with Cook's distance greater than 1 are given zero weight. From this model, weights are assigned to records according to the absolute difference between the predicted and actual values (the absolute residual).  The records with small absolute residuals are weighted more heavily than the records with large absolute residuals.  Then, another regression is run using these newly assigned weights, and then new weights are generated from this regression.  This process of regressing and reweighting is iterated until the differences in weights before and after a regression is sufficiently close to zero. For a detailed illustration of this process, see Chapter Six of Regression with Graphics.

The Stata command for robust regression is rreg.  The model portion of the command is identical to an OLS regression: outcome variable followed by predictors. We have added gen(weight) to the command so that we will be able to examine the final weights used in the model.

rreg crime poverty single, gen(weight)
   Huber iteration 1:  maximum difference in weights = .66846346
Huber iteration 2:  maximum difference in weights = .11288069
Huber iteration 3:  maximum difference in weights = .01810715
Biweight iteration 4:  maximum difference in weights = .29167992
Biweight iteration 5:  maximum difference in weights = .10354281
Biweight iteration 6:  maximum difference in weights = .01421094
Biweight iteration 7:  maximum difference in weights = .0033545

Robust regression                                      Number of obs =      50
F(  2,    47) =   31.15
Prob > F      =  0.0000

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
crime |      Coef.   Std. Err.      t    P>|t|     [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
poverty |   10.36971   7.629288     1.36   0.181    -4.978432    25.71786
single |   142.6339   22.17042     6.43   0.000     98.03276     187.235
_cons |  -1160.931   224.2564    -5.18   0.000    -1612.076   -709.7849
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We can see that large residuals correspond to low weights in robust regression.

sort weight
li sid state weight absr1 in 1/10
     +------------------------------------+
| sid   state      weight      absr1 |
|------------------------------------|
1. |  25      ms   .02638862   3.158753 |
2. |   9      fl   .11772218   3.023632 |
3. |  46      vt   .59144513   1.831356 |
4. |  26      mt   .66441582   1.588843 |
5. |  20      md   .67960728    1.62075 |
|------------------------------------|
6. |  14      il   .69124917   1.550569 |
7. |  21      me   .69766511   1.578434 |
8. |  31      nj   .74574796   1.193654 |
9. |  19      ma   .75392127   1.288611 |
10. |   5      ca   .80179038   1.401128 |
+------------------------------------+

Here we can see that, generally, small weights are given to cases with large absolute residuals.

#### Stata Output

   Huber iterationa1:  maximum difference in weights = .66846346
Huber iteration 2:  maximum difference in weights = .11288069
Huber iteration 3:  maximum difference in weights = .01810715
Biweight iterationb4:  maximum difference in weights = .29167992
Biweight iteration 5:  maximum difference in weights = .10354281
Biweight iteration 6:  maximum difference in weights = .01421094
Biweight iteration 7:  maximum difference in weights = .0033545

Robust regression                                      Number of obsc =     50
F(  2,    47)d =  31.15
Prob > Fe      = 0.0000

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
crime |      Coef.f  Std. Err.g     th   P>|t|i    [95% Conf. Interval]j
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
poverty |   10.36971   7.629288     1.36   0.181    -4.978432    25.71786
single |   142.6339   22.17042     6.43   0.000     98.03276     187.235
_cons |  -1160.931   224.2564    -5.18   0.000    -1612.076   -709.7849
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

a. Huber iteration - These are iterations in which Huber weightings are implemented.  In Huber weighting, the larger the residual, the smaller the weight.  These weights are used until they are nearly unchanged from iteration to iteration.  In this example, three iterations were necessary for the model to converge using Huber weights.  The converged model is then weighted using biweights (see superscript b).  Both weighting methods are used because both have problems when used alone: Huber weights can work poorly with extreme outliers and biweights do not always converge.

b. Biweight iteration - These are iterations in which biweights are implemented.  To see the precise functions that define biweights and Huber weights, consult the Stata 10 manual (Reference Q-Z, "rreg" entry).  Biweight iterations continue until the biweights are nearly unchanged from iteration to iteration.  In this example, four iterations were required for convergence.  The model to which the biweight iterations converge is considered the final model.

c. Number of obs - This is the number of observations in our dataset.  Our dataset started with 51 cases, and we dropped the record corresponding to Washington, D.C., leaving us with 50 cases in our analysis.

d. F(2, 47) - This is the model F-statistic.  It is the test statistic used in evaluating the null hypothesis that all of the model coefficients are equal to zero.  Under the null hypothesis, our predictors have no linear relationship to the outcome variable.  The numbers in parenthesis are degrees of freedom. The model degrees of freedom is equal to the number of predictors and the error degrees of freedom is calculated as (number of observations - (number of predictors+1)).  This statistic follows an F distribution with df1 = 2, df2 = 47.

e. Prob > F - This is the probability of getting an F statistic test statistic as extreme as, or more so, than the observed statistic under the null hypothesis; the null hypothesis is that all of the regression coefficients are simultaneously equal to zero.  In other words, this is the probability of obtaining this F statistic (31.15) or one more extreme if there is in fact no effect of the predictor variables.  This p-value is compared to a specified alpha level, our willingness to accept a type I error, which is typically set at 0.05 or 0.01.  The small p-value,  <0.0001, would lead us to conclude that at least one of the regression coefficients in the model is not equal to zero.

f. Coef. - These are the values for the regression equation for predicting the dependent variable from the independent variable.  The regression equation is presented in many different ways, for example:

Y(predicted) = b0 + b1*x1 + b2*x2.

The column of estimates provides the values for b0, b1 and b2 for this equation.  Expressed in terms of the variables used in this example, the regression equation is

crime(predicted) = -1160.931 + 10.36971*poverty + 142.6339*single.

These estimates tell you about the relationship between the predictor variables and the outcome variable.  These estimates indicate the amount of increase in crime that would be predicted by a 1 unit increase in the predictor variable.
poverty - The coefficient for poverty is 10.36971.  For every unit increase in poverty, a 10.36971 unit increase in crime is predicted, holding all other variables constant.
single - The coefficient for single is 142.6339.  For every unit increase in single, a 142.6339 unit increase in crime is predicted, holding all other variables constant.

g. Std. Err. - These are the standard errors associated with the coefficients.  The standard error is used for testing whether the parameter is significantly different from 0 by dividing the parameter estimate by the standard error to obtain a t-value (see superscripts h and i).  The standard errors can also be used to form a confidence interval for the parameter, as shown in the last two columns of this table.

h. t - The test statistic t is the ratio of the Coef. to the Std. Err. of the respective predictor.  The t value follows a t-distribution which is used to test against a two-sided alternative hypothesis that the Coef. is not equal to zero.

poverty - The t test statistic for the predictor poverty is (10.36971 / 7.629288) = 1.36 with an associated p-value of 0.181.  If we set our alpha level to 0.05, we would fail to reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the regression coefficient for poverty has not been found to be statistically different from zero given that single is in the model.

single -The t test statistic for the predictor single is (142.6339 / 22.17042) = 6.43 with an associated p-value of < 0.001.  If we set our alpha level to 0.05, we would reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the regression coefficient for single has been found to be statistically different from zero given that poverty is in the model.

_cons - The t test statistic for the intercept, _cons, is (-1160.931 / 224.2564) = -5.18 with an associated p-value of < 0.001.  If we set our alpha level at 0.05, we would reject the null hypothesis and conclude that _cons has been found to be statistically different from zero given poverty and single are in the model and evaluated at zero.

i. P>|t| - This is the probability the t test statistic (or a more extreme test statistic) would be observed under the null hypothesis that a particular predictor's regression coefficient is zero, given that the rest of the predictors are in the model.  For a given alpha level, P>|t| determines whether of not the null hypothesis can be rejected.  If P>|t| is less than alpha, then the null hypothesis can be rejected and the parameter estimate is considered to be statistically significant at that alpha level.

j. [95% Conf. Interval] - This is the Confidence Interval (CI) for an individual coefficient given that the other predictors are in the model.  For a given predictor with a level of 95% confidence, we'd say that we are 95% confident that the "true" coefficient lies between the lower and upper limit of the interval.  It is calculated as the Coef. ± (zα/2)*(Std.Err.), where zα/2 is a critical value on the standard normal distribution.  The CI is equivalent to the t test statistic: if the CI includes zero, we'd fail to reject the null hypothesis that a particular regression coefficient is zero given the other predictors are in the model.  An advantage of a CI is that it is illustrative; it provides a range where  the "true" parameter may lie.

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