CitationMilliren, Carly E.; Evans, Clare R.; Richmond, Tracy K.; & Dunn, Erin C. (2018). Does an uneven sample size distribution across settings matter in cross-classified multilevel modeling? Results of a simulation study. Health and Place. vol. 52 pp. 121-126
AbstractBackground Recent advances in multilevel modeling allow for modeling non-hierarchical levels (e.g., youth in non-nested schools and neighborhoods) using cross-classified multilevel models (CCMM). Current practice is to cluster samples from one context (e.g., schools) and utilize the observations however they are distributed from the second context (e.g., neighborhoods). However, it is unknown whether an uneven distribution of sample size across these contexts leads to incorrect estimates of random effects in CCMMs. Methods Using the school and neighborhood data structure in Add Health, we examined the effect of neighborhood sample size imbalance on the estimation of variance parameters in models predicting BMI. We differentially assigned students from a given school to neighborhoods within that school's catchment area using three scenarios of (im)balance. 1000 random datasets were simulated for each of five combinations of school- and neighborhood-level variance and imbalance scenarios, for a total of 15,000 simulated data sets. For each simulation, we calculated 95% CIs for the variance parameters to determine whether the true simulated variance fell within the interval. Results Across all simulations, the “true” school and neighborhood variance parameters were estimated 93–96% of the time. Only 5% of models failed to capture neighborhood variance; 6% failed to capture school variance. Conclusions These results suggest that there is no systematic bias in the ability of CCMM to capture the true variance parameters regardless of the distribution of students across neighborhoods. Ongoing efforts to use CCMM are warranted and can proceed without concern for the sample imbalance across contexts.
Keyword(s)Cross-classified multilevel modeling Contextual effects Simulation Schools Neighborhoods
Reference TypeJournal Article
Journal TitleHealth and Place
Author(s)Milliren, Carly E.
Evans, Clare R.
Richmond, Tracy K.
Dunn, Erin C.