Measurement of diminishing or divergent cross section dispersion in a panel plays an important role in the assessment of convergence or divergence over time in key economic indicators. Econometric methods, known as weak σ-convergence tests, have recently been developed (Kong, Phillips, & Sul, 2019) to evaluate such trends in dispersion in panel data using simple linear trend regressions. To achieve generality in applications, these tests rely on heteroskedastic and autocorrelation consistent (HAC) variance estimates. The present chapter examines the behavior of these convergence tests when heteroskedastic and autocorrelation robust (HAR) variance estimates using fixed-b methods are employed instead of HAC estimates. Asymptotic theory for both HAC and HAR convergence tests is derived and numerical simulations are used to assess performance in null (no convergence) and alternative (convergence) cases. While the use of HAR statistics tends to reduce size distortion, as has been found in earlier analytic and numerical research, use of HAR estimates in nonparametric standardization leads to significant power differences asymptotically, which are reflected in finite sample performance in numerical exercises. The explanation is that weak σ-convergence tests rely on intentionally misspecified linear trend regression formulations of unknown trend decay functions that model convergence behavior rather than regressions with correctly specified trend decay functions. Some new results on the use of HAR inference with trending regressors are derived and an empirical application to assess diminishing variation in US State unemployment rates is included.
Phillips acknowledges support from the Kelly Foundation at the University of Auckland. Kong acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation of China under Grant No: 71903109.
Kong, J., Phillips, P.C.B. and Sul, D. (2020), "Testing Convergence Using HAR Inference", Li, T., Pesaran, M.H. and Terrell, D. (Ed.) Essays in Honor of Cheng Hsiao (Advances in Econometrics, Vol. 41), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 25-72. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0731-905320200000041002
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