Essays on Social Networks and Time Series with Structural Breaks

Authors: Houndetoungan, Elysée Aristide
Advisor: Boucher, VincentFortin, Bernard
Abstract: This dissertation, composed of three (03) separate chapters, develops new econometric modelsfor peer effects analysis and time series modelling.The first chapter (a joint work with Professor Vicent Boucher) studies a method for estimatingpeer effects through social networks when researchers do not observe the network structure. We assume that researchers know (a consistent estimate of) the distribution of the network. We show that this assumption is sufficient for the estimation of peer effects using a linear-in-means model. We propose an instrumental variables estimator and a Bayesian estimator. We present and discuss important examples where our methodology can be applied. We also present an application with the widely used Add Health database which presents many missing links. We estimate a model of peer effects on students’ academic achievement. We show that our Bayesian estimator reconstructs these missing links and leads to a valid estimate of peer effects. In particular, we show that disregarding missing links underestimates the endogenous peer effect on academic achievement. In the second chapter, I present a structural model of peer effects in which the dependent variable is counting (Number of cigarettes smoked, frequency of restaurant visits, frequency of participation in activities). The model is based on a static game with incomplete information in which individuals interact through a directed network and are influenced by their belief over the choice of their peers. I provide sufficient conditions under which the equilibrium of the game is unique. I show that using the standard linear-in-means spatial autoregressive (SAR) model or the SAR Tobit model to estimate peer effects on counting variables generated from the game asymptotically underestimates the peer effects. The estimation bias decreases when the range of the dependent counting variable increases. I estimate peer effects on the number of extracurricular activities in which students are enrolled. I find that increasing the number of activities in which a student’s friends are enrolled by one implies an increase in the number of activities in which the student is enrolled by 0.295, controlling for the endogeneity of the network. I also show that the peer effects are underestimated at 0.150 when ignoring the counting nature of the dependent variable. The third chapter (a joint work with Professor Arnaud Dufays and Professor Alain Coen) presents an approach for time series modelling. Change-point (CP) processes are one flexible approach to model long time series. Considering a linear-in-means models, we propose a method to relax the assumption that a break triggers a change in all the model parameters. To do so, we first estimate the potential break dates exhibited by the series and then we use a penalized likelihood approach to detect which parameters change. Because some segments in the CP regression can be small, we opt for a (nearly) unbiased penalty function, called the seamless-L0 (SELO) penalty function. We prove the consistency of the SELO estimator in detecting which parameters indeed vary over time and we suggest using a deterministic annealing expectation-maximisation (DAEM) algorithm to deal with the multimodality of the objective function. Since the SELO penalty function depends on two tuning parameters, we use a criterion to choose the best tuning parameters and as a result the best model. This new criterion exhibits a Bayesian interpretation which makes possible to assess the parameters’ uncertainty as well as the model’s uncertainty. Monte Carlo simulations highlight that the method works well for many time series models including heteroskedastic processes. For a sample of 14 Hedge funds (HF) strategies, using an asset based style pricing model, we shed light on the promising ability of our method to detect the time-varying dynamics of risk exposures as well as to forecast HF returns.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 28 June 2021
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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