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7.1 Hypothesis Tests and Confidence Intervals for a Single Coefficient

We first discuss how to compute standard errors, how to test hypotheses and how to construct confidence intervals for a single regression coefficient \(\beta_j\) in a multiple regression model. The basic idea is summarized in Key Concept 7.1.

Key Concept 7.1

Testing the Hypothesis \(\beta_j = \beta_{j,0}\)
Against the Alternative \(\beta_j \neq \beta_{j,0}\)

  1. Compute the standard error of \(\hat{\beta_j}\)
  2. Compute the \(t\)-statistic, \[t^{act} = \frac{\hat{\beta}_j - \beta_{j,0}} {SE(\hat{\beta_j})}\]
  3. Compute the \(p\)-value, \[p\text{-value} = 2 \Phi(-|t^{act}|)\]
where \(t^{act}\) is the value of the \(t\)-statistic actually computed. Reject the hypothesis at the \(5\%\) significance level if the \(p\)-value is less than \(0.05\) or, equivalently, if \(|t^{act}| > 1.96\). The standard error and (typically) the \(t\)-statistic and the corresponding \(p\)-value for testing \(\beta_j = 0\) are computed automatically by suitable R functions, e.g., by summary.

Testing a single hypothesis about the significance of a coefficient in the multiple regression model proceeds as in in the simple regression model.

You can easily see this by inspecting the coefficient summary of the regression model

\[ TestScore = \beta_0 + \beta_1 \times size \beta_2 \times english + u \]

already discussed in Chapter 6. Let us review this:


model <- lm(score ~ size + english, data = CASchools)
coeftest(model, vcov. = vcovHC, type = "HC1")
#> 
#> t test of coefficients:
#> 
#>               Estimate Std. Error  t value Pr(>|t|)    
#> (Intercept) 686.032245   8.728225  78.5993  < 2e-16 ***
#> size         -1.101296   0.432847  -2.5443  0.01131 *  
#> english      -0.649777   0.031032 -20.9391  < 2e-16 ***
#> ---
#> Signif. codes:  0 '***' 0.001 '**' 0.01 '*' 0.05 '.' 0.1 ' ' 1

You may check that these quantities are computed as in the simple regression model by computing the \(t\)-statistics or \(p\)-values by hand using the output above and R as a calculator.

For example, using the definition of the \(p\)-value for a two-sided test as given in Key Concept 7.1, we can confirm the \(p\)-value for a test of the hypothesis that the coefficient \(\beta_1\), the coefficient on size, to be approximately zero.

# compute two-sided p-value
2 * (1 - pt(abs(coeftest(model, vcov. = vcovHC, type = "HC1")[2, 3]),
            df = model$df.residual))
#> [1] 0.01130921

Key Concept 7.2

Confidence Intervals for a Single Coefficient in Multiple Regression

A \(95\%\) two-sided confidence interval for the coefficient \(\beta_j\) is an interval that contains the true value of \(\beta_j\) with a \(95 \%\) probability; that is, it contains the true value of \(\beta_j\) in \(95 \%\) of all repeated samples. Equivalently, it is the set of values of \(\beta_j\) that cannot be rejected by a \(5 \%\) two-sided hypothesis test. When the sample size is large, the \(95 \%\) confidence interval for \(\beta_j\) is \[\left[\hat{\beta_j}- 1.96 \times SE(\hat{\beta}_j), \hat{\beta_j} + 1.96 \times SE(\hat{\beta_j})\right].\]