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Analyzing Incomplete Political Science Data: An Alternative Algorithm for Multiple Imputation

American Political Science Review, Vol. 95, No. 1, pp. 49-69, March 2001

21 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008  

Gary King

Harvard University

James Honaker

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Anne Joseph O'Connell

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Kenneth Scheve Jr.

Stanford University

Abstract

We propose a remedy for the discrepancy between the way political scientists analyze data with missing values and the recommendations of the statistics community. Methodologists and statisticians agree that "multiple imputation" is a superior approach to the problem of missing data scattered through one's explanatory and dependent variables than the methods currently used in applied data analysis. The discrepancy occurs because the computational algorithms used to apply the best multiple imputation models have been slow, difficult to implement, impossible to run with existing commercial statistical packages, and have demanded considerable expertise. We adapt an algorithm and use it to implement a general-purpose, multiple imputation model for missing data. This algorithm is considerably easier to use than the leading method recommended in statistics literature. We also quantify the risks of current missing data practices, illustrate how to use the new procedure, and evaluate this alternative through simulated data as well as actual empirical examples. Finally, we offer easy-to-use that implements our suggested methods.

Suggested Citation

King, Gary and Honaker, James and Joseph O'Connell, Anne and Scheve, Kenneth, Analyzing Incomplete Political Science Data: An Alternative Algorithm for Multiple Imputation. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1083698

Gary King (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-500-7570 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://gking.harvard.edu

James Honaker

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

405 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1472
United States

Anne Joseph O'Connell

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
(510) 643-9393 (Phone)

Kenneth F. Scheve Jr.

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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