Development of a unified approach to statistical modeling, inference, interpretation, presentation, analysis, and software; integrated with most of the other projects listed here.
How Robust Standard Errors Expose Methodological Problems They Do Not Fix.Abstract. 2012.
``Robust standard errors'' are used in a vast array of scholarship across all fields of empirical political science and most other social science disciplines. The popularity of this procedure stems from the fact that estimators of certain quantities in some models can be consistently estimated even under particular types of misspecification; and although classical standard errors are inconsistent in these situations, robust standard errors can sometimes be consistent. However, in applications where misspecification is bad enough to make classical and robust standard errors diverge, assuming that misspecification is nevertheless not so bad as to bias everything else requires considerable optimism. And even if the optimism is warranted, we show that settling for a misspecified model (even with robust standard errors) can be a big mistake, in that all but a few quantities of interest will be impossible to estimate (or simulate) from the model without bias. We suggest a different practice: Recognize that differences between robust and classical standard errors are like canaries in the coal mine, providing clear indications that your model is misspecified and your inferences are likely biased. At that point, it is often straightforward to use some of the numerous and venerable model checking diagnostics to locate the source of the problem, and then modern approaches to choosing a better model. With a variety of real examples, we demonstrate that following these procedures can drastically reduce biases, improve statistical inferences, and change substantive conclusions.