Econometric Theory


Giovanni  Forchini  a1 c1 and Grant  Hillier  a2 c2
a1 University of York
a2 University of Southampton

Article author query
forchini g   [Google Scholar] 
hillier g   [Google Scholar] 


The possibility that a structural equation may not be identified casts doubt on measures of estimator precision that are usually used. Using the Fieller–Creasy problem for illustration, we argue that an observed identifiability test statistic is directly relevant to the precision with which the structural parameters can be estimated, and hence we argue that inference in such models should be conditioned on the observed value of that statistic (or statistics).

We examine in detail the effects of such conditioning on the properties of the ordinary least squares (OLS) and two-stage least squares (TSLS) estimators for the coefficients of the endogenous variables in a single structural equation. We show that (a) conditioning has very little impact on the properties of the OLS estimator but a substantial impact on those of the TSLS estimator; (b) the conditional variance of the TSLS estimator can be very much larger than its unconditional variance (when the identifiability statistic is small) or very much smaller (when the identifiability statistic is large); and (c) conditional mean-square-error comparisons of the two estimators favor the OLS estimator when the sample evidence only weakly supports the identifiability hypothesis but favor TSLS when that evidence moderately supports identifiability.

Finally, we note that another consequence of our argument is that the statistic upon which Anderson–Rubin confidence sets are based is in fact nonpivotal. a

c1 Address correspondence to: Giovanni Forchini, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York YO10 5DD, United Kingdom; e-mail:
c2 Or address correspondence to: Grant Hillier, Department of Economics, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom; e-mail:


a We are grateful for the constructive comments offered by Peter Phillips and three anonymous referees that greatly improved the paper. Giovanni Forchini acknowledges support from ESRC grant NR00429424115.