The specification of dynamic discrete-time two-state panel data models

This paper examines dynamic binary response and multi-spell duration model approaches to analyzing longitudinal discrete-time binary outcomes. Prototypical dynamic binary response models specify low-order Markovian state dependence and restrict the effects of observed and unobserved heterogeneity on the probability of transitioning into and out of a state to have the same magnitude and opposite signs. In contrast, multi-spell duration models typically allow for state-specific duration dependence, and allow the probability of entry into and exit from a state to vary flexibly.

We show that both of these approaches are special cases within a general framework. We compare specific dynamic binary response and multi-spell duration models empirically using a case study of poverty transitions. In this example, both the specification of state dependence and the restrictions on the state-specific transition probabilities imposed by the simpler dynamic binary response models are severely rejected against the more flexible multi-spell duration models. Consistent with recent literature, we conclude that the standard dynamic binary response model is unacceptably restrictive in this context.


Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Australian Research Council