Local Projections vs. VARs: Lessons From Thousands of DGPs


Li, Dake, Mikkel Plagborg-Møller, and Christian K. Wolf. Working Papers. “Local Projections vs. VARs: Lessons From Thousands of DGPs”.


We conduct a simulation study of Local Projection (LP) and Vector Autoregression (VAR) estimators of structural impulse responses across thousands of data generating processes (DGPs), designed to mimic the properties of the universe of U.S. macroeconomic data. Our analysis considers various structural identification schemes and several variants of LP and VAR estimators, and we pay particular attention to the role of the researcher's loss function. A clear bias-variance trade-off emerges: Because our DGPs are not exactly finite-order VAR models, LPs have lower bias than VAR estimators; however, the variance of LPs is substantially higher than that of VARs at intermediate or long horizons. Unless researchers are overwhelmingly concerned with bias, shrinkage via Bayesian VARs or penalized LPs is attractive.


Matlab code (GitHub)


Last updated on 11/12/2021