Stata Data Analysis Examples Interval Regression

Interval regression is used to model outcomes that have interval censoring.  In other words, you know the ordered category into which each observation falls, but you do not know the exact value of the observation.  Interval regression is a generalization of censored regression.

Please note: The purpose of this page is to show how to use various data analysis commands.  It does not cover all aspects of the research process which researchers are expected to do.  In particular, it does not cover data cleaning and checking, verification of assumptions, model diagnostics or potential follow-up analyses.

Examples of interval regression

Example 1.  We wish to model annual income using years of education and marital status.  However, we do not have access to the precise values for income.  Rather, we only have data on the income ranges: <$15,000,$15,000-$25,000,$25,000-$50,000,$50,000-$75,000,$75,000-$100,000, and >$100,000.  Note that the extreme values of the categories on either end of the range are either left-censored or right-censored.  The other categories are interval censored, that is, each interval is both left- and right-censored.  Analyses of this type require a generalization of censored regression known as interval regression.

Example 2.  We wish to predict GPA from teacher ratings of effort and from reading and writing test scores.  The measure of GPA is a self-report response to the following item:

Select the category that best represents your overall GPA.
less than 2.0
2.0 to 2.5
2.5 to 3.0
3.0 to 3.4
3.4 to 3.8
3.8 to 3.9
4.0 or greater
Again, we have a situation with both interval censoring and left- and right-censoring.  We do not know the exact value of GPA for each student; we only know the interval in which their GPA falls.

Example 3. We wish to predict GPA from teacher ratings of effort, writing test scores and the type of program in which the student was enrolled (vocational, general or academic).  The measure of GPA is a self-report response to the following item:

Select the category that best represents your overall GPA.
0.0 to 2.0
2.0 to 2.5
2.5 to 3.0
3.0 to 3.4
3.4 to 3.8
3.8 to 4.0
This is a slight variation of Example 2.  In this example, there is only interval censoring.

Description of the data

Let's pursue Example 3 from above.

We have a hypothetical data file, intreg_data.dta with 30 observations.  The GPA score is represented by two values, the lower interval score (lgpa) and the upper interval score (ugpa).  The writing test scores, the teacher rating and the type of program (a nominal variable which has three levels) are write, rating and type, respectively.

Let's look at the data.  It is always a good idea to start with descriptive statistics.

use http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/dae/intreg_data, clear

list lgpa ugpa, clean

lgpa   ugpa
1.    2.5      3
2.    3.4    3.8
3.    2.5      3
4.      0      2
5.      3    3.4
6.    3.4    3.8
7.    3.8      4
8.      2    2.5
9.      3    3.4
10.    3.4    3.8
11.      2    2.5
12.      2    2.5
13.      2    2.5
14.    2.5      3
15.    2.5      3
16.    2.5      3
17.    3.4    3.8
18.    2.5      3
19.      2    2.5
20.      3    3.4
21.    3.4    3.8
22.    3.8      4
23.      2    2.5
24.      3    3.4
25.    3.4    3.8
26.      2    2.5
27.      2    2.5
28.      2    2.5
29.    2.5      3
30.    2.5      3  
Note that there are two GPA responses for each observation, lgpa for the lower end of the interval and ugpa for the upper end.
summarize lgpa ugpa write rating

Variable |       Obs        Mean    Std. Dev.       Min        Max
-------------+--------------------------------------------------------
lgpa |        30         2.6    .7754865          0        3.8
ugpa |        30    3.096667    .5708332          2          4
write |        30    113.8333    49.94278         50        205
rating |        30    57.53333    8.303441         48         72
tabstat lgpa ugpa, by(type) stats(n mean sd)

Summary statistics: N, mean, sd
by categories of: type

type |      lgpa      ugpa
-----------+--------------------
vocational |         8         8
|      1.75    2.4375
|  .7071068  .1767767
-----------+--------------------
general |        10        10
|      2.78      3.24
|  .3852849  .3373096
-----------+--------------------
|  3.016667  3.416667
|  .6336522  .5474458
-----------+--------------------
Total |        30        30
|       2.6  3.096667
|  .7754865  .5708332
--------------------------------

Graphing these data can be rather tricky.  Just to get an idea of what the distribution of GPA is, we will do separate histograms for lgpa and ugpa.  We will also correlate the variables in the dataset.
histogram ugpa, normal xlabel(0(1)4) name(hugpa)
histogram lgpa, normal xlabel(0(1)4) name(hlgpa)
graph combine hlgpa hugpa, ycommon xsize(7)



correlate lgpa ugpa write rating
(obs=30)

|     lgpa     ugpa    write   rating
-------------+------------------------------------
lgpa |   1.0000
ugpa |   0.9488   1.0000
write |   0.6206   0.6572   1.0000
rating |   0.5355   0.5904   0.4763   1.0000

Analysis methods you might consider

Below is a list of some analysis methods you may have encountered.  Some of the methods listed are quite reasonable, while others have either fallen out of favor or have limitations.

• Interval regression - This method is appropriate when you know into what interval each observation of the outcome variable falls, but you do not know the exact value of the observation.
• Ordered probitIt is possible to conceptualize this model as an ordered probit regression with six ordered categories: 0 (0.0-2.0), 1 (2.0-2.5), 2 (2.5-3.0), 3 (3.0-3.4), 4 (3.4-3.8), and 5 (3.8-4.0).
• Ordinal logistic regression - The results would be very similar in terms of which predictors are significant; however, the predicted values would be in terms of probabilities of membership in each of the categories.  It would be necessary that the data meet the proportional odds assumption which, in fact, these data do not meet when converted into ordinal categories.
• OLS regression - You could analyze these data using OLS regression on the midpoints of the intervals.  However, that analysis would not reflect our uncertainty concerning the nature of the exact values within each interval, nor would it deal adequately with the left- and right-censoring issues in the tails.

Interval regression

We will use the intreg command to run the interval regression analysis.  The intreg command requires two outcome variables, the lower limit of the interval and the upper limit of the interval.  The i. before type indicates that it is a factor variable (i.e., categorical variable), and that it should be included in the model as a series of indicator variables.  Note that this syntax was introduced in Stata 11.

intreg lgpa ugpa write rating i.type

Fitting constant-only model:

Iteration 0:   log likelihood = -52.129849
Iteration 1:   log likelihood =  -51.74803
Iteration 2:   log likelihood = -51.747288
Iteration 3:   log likelihood = -51.747288

Fitting full model:

Iteration 0:   log likelihood = -35.224403
Iteration 1:   log likelihood = -33.142851
Iteration 2:   log likelihood = -33.128906
Iteration 3:   log likelihood = -33.128905

Interval regression                               Number of obs   =         30
LR chi2(4)      =      37.24
Log likelihood = -33.128905                       Prob > chi2     =     0.0000

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|      Coef.   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|     [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
write |   .0052847   .0016921     3.12   0.002     .0019683    .0086012
rating |   .0133143   .0091197     1.46   0.144    -.0045601    .0311886
|
type |
2  |    .374853     .19275     1.94   0.052      -.00293    .7526359
3  |   .7097467   .1668399     4.25   0.000     .3827466    1.036747
|
_cons |   1.103863   .4452887     2.48   0.013     .2311137    1.976613
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
/lnsigma |  -1.237263   .1596419    -7.75   0.000    -1.550155   -.9243703
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
sigma |   .2901775   .0463245                      .2122151    .3967812
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Observation summary:         0  left-censored observations
0     uncensored observations
0 right-censored observations
30       interval observations
• The iteration log is given first.  It starts by fitting the constant only model, and then the full model (the model with predictor variables).
• At the top, the number of observations used in the analysis (30) is given, along with a likelihood-ratio chi-square.  The likelihood-ratio chi-square tests the difference between the full model (with predictors) and the constant only model.  Below that is the p-value for the chi-square with four degrees of freedom.  This model, as a whole, is statistically significant.  The log-likelihood for the full model is also given.  This value can be used to compare models.
• The table of coefficients contains the interval regression coefficients, their standard errors, z-values, p-values and 95% confidence intervals.  The coefficients for write and 3.type are statistically significant; the coefficient for rating and 2.type are not (at the .05 level of significance).
• The variable write is statistically significant.  A unit increase in writing score leads to a .005 increase in predicted GPA.  One of the indicator variables for type is also statistically significant.  Compared to level 1 of type, the predicted achievement for level 3 of type increases by about .71.  To determine if type itself is statistically significant, we can use the constrast command to obtain the two degree-of-freedom test of this variable.  This is shown below.
• The ancillary statistic sigma is equivalent to the standard error of the estimate in OLS regression.  The value of 0.29 can be compared to the standard deviations for lgpa and ugpa of 0.78 and 0.57, respectively.  This shows a substantial reduction.  The output also contains an estimate of the standard error of sigma, as well as a 95% confidence interval.  Stata does not compute sigma directly but actually computes the log of sigma (/lnsigma in the output).
• Finally, a summary of the observations is given.  In this dataset, no observations are left- or right-censored, no observations are uncensored, and all 30 observations are interval censored.
contrast type

Contrasts of marginal linear predictions

Margins      : asbalanced

------------------------------------------------
|         df        chi2     P>chi2
-------------+----------------------------------
model        |
type |          2       18.71     0.0001
------------------------------------------------

The two degree-of-freedom chi-square test indicates that type is a statistically significant predictor of lgpa and ugpa.

We can use the margins command to obtain the expected cell means.  Note that these are different from the means we obtained with the tabstat command above, because they are adjusted for write and rating also.

margins type

Predictive margins                                Number of obs   =         30
Model VCE    : OIM

Expression   : Linear prediction, predict()

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|            Delta-method
|     Margin   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|     [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
type |
1  |   2.471456     .13236    18.67   0.000     2.212035    2.730877
2  |   2.846309    .118957    23.93   0.000     2.613157     3.07946
3  |   3.181203   .0969802    32.80   0.000     2.991125     3.37128
------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The expected mean GPA for students in program type 1 (vocational) is 2.47; the expected mean GPA for students in program type 3 (academic) is 3.18.

If you would like to compare interval regression models, you can issue the estat ic command to get the log likelihood, AIC and BIC values.

estat ic

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Model |    Obs    ll(null)   ll(model)     df          AIC         BIC
-------------+---------------------------------------------------------------
. |     30   -51.74729   -33.12891      6     78.25781    86.66499
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  N=Obs used in calculating BIC; see [R] BIC note


The intreg command does not compute an R2 or pseudo-R2.  You can compute an approximate measure of fit by calculating the R2 between the predicted and observed values.

predict p
correlate lgpa ugpa p
(obs=30)

|     lgpa     ugpa        p
-------------+---------------------------
lgpa |   1.0000
ugpa |   0.9488   1.0000
p |   0.7494   0.8430   1.0000

display .7494^2

.56160036

display .8430^2

.710649
The calculated values of approximately .56 and .71 are probably close to what you would find in an OLS regression if you had actual GPA scores.  You can also make use of the Long and Freese utility command fitstat (findit spostado) (see How can I use the findit command to search for programs and get additional help? for more information about using findit), which provides a number of pseudo-R2s in addition to other measures of fit.  The Cox-Snell pseudo-R2, in which the ratio of the likelihoods reflects the improvement of the full model over the intercept-only model, is close to our approximate estimates above.
fitstat

Measures of Fit for intreg of lgpa ugpa

Log-Lik Intercept Only:        -51.747   Log-Lik Full Model:            -33.129
D(23):                          66.258   LR(4):                          37.237
Prob > LR:                       0.000
ML (Cox-Snell) R2:               0.711   Cragg-Uhler(Nagelkerke) R2:      0.734
McKelvey & Zavoina's R2:         0.760
Variance of y*:                  0.351   Variance of error:               0.084
AIC:                             2.675   AIC*n:                          80.258
BIC:                           -11.970   BIC':                          -23.632
BIC used by Stata:              86.665   AIC used by Stata:              78.258



Things to consider

• Stata online manual
• Related Stata commands
• cnreg -- censored normal regression, in which the censoring values may change from observation to observation.
• tobit -- regression with fixed censored values.
• Annotated output for the intreg command

References

• Long, J. S. and Freese, J. (2006).  Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables Using Stata, Second Edition. College Station, TX: Stata Press.
• Long, J. S. (1997).  Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
• Stewart, M. B. (1983).  On least squares estimation when the dependent variable is grouped. Review of Economic Studies 50: 737-753.
• Tobin, J. (1958).  Estimation of relationships for limited dependent variables. Econometrica 26: 24-36.

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