Model robust inference with two-stage maximum likelihood estimation for copulas
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AbstractThis article is concerned with inference in parametric copula setups, where both the marginals and the copula have parametric forms. For such models, two-stage maximum likelihood estimation, often referred to as inference function for margins, is used as an attractive alternative to the full maximum likelihood estimation strategy. Previous studies of the two-stage maximum likelihood estimator have largely been based on the assumption that the chosen parametric model captures the true model that generated data. We study the impact of dropping this true model assumption, both theoretically and numerically. We first show that the two-stage maximum likelihood estimator is consistent for a well-defined least false parameter value, different from the analogous least false parameter associated with the full maximum likelihood procedure. Then we demonstrate limiting normality of the full vector of estimators, with concise matrix notation for the variance matrices involved. Along with consistent estimators for these, we have built a model-robust machinery for inference in parametric copula models. The special case where the parametric model is assumed to hold corresponds to situations studied earlier in the literature, with simpler formulas for variance matrices. As a numerical illustration, we perform a set of simulations. We also analyze five-dimensional Norwegian precipitation data. We find that the variance of the copula parameter estimate can both increase and decrease, by dropping the true model assumption. In addition, we observe that the two-stage maximum likelihood estimator is still highly efficient when the true model assumption is dropped and thus the model robust asymptotic variance formulas are used. Additionally, we discover that using highly misspecified models can lead to situations where the asymptotic variance of the two-stage maximum likelihood estimator is lower than that of full maximum likelihood estimator. Our results are also used to analyze the mean squared error properties for both the full and the two-stage maximum likelihood estimators of any focus parameter.

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