Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Multilevel and Longitudinal Modeling in Stata

For my "off-task" reading I recent perused an excellent book on multilevel and longitudinal modeling in Stata by Sophia Rabe-Hesketh and Anders Skrondal. The second edition (which I read) has been updated by including several chapters providing an overview of regression modeling and ANOVA (analysis of variance) as well as additional background information on models with nonlinear outcomes (e.g., logistic regression). The authors even include a self-test near the beginning of the book to ensure that readers can confidently progress through the rest of the material. The book has many great features, including ease of data accessibility (simply go to this website and you instantly have all the datasets used in the book), clarity of presentation, and numerous applied examples with accompanying Stata code. The only problem, which is not a problem with the book, is that multilevel modeling in Stata (as the authors note) can be rather slow, especially for nonlinear outcomes with many levels. (For this reason, when using nonlinear outcomes other statistical packages may be more desirable than Stata, such as R.) Yet overall the book is an excellent overview of an important class of statistical models, and can even be viewed as a way of take advantage of Stata beyond the realm of "econometric" approaches (which seems to be Stata's strength) and toward the realm of putatively more "sociologic" methods of data analysis, in which clustered data are viewed as something important in their own right rather than as statistical nuisances.