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Nested hidden Markov chains for modeling dynamic unobserved heterogeneity in multilevel longitudinal data

Bartolucci, Francesco and Lupparelli, Monia (2012): Nested hidden Markov chains for modeling dynamic unobserved heterogeneity in multilevel longitudinal data.

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Abstract

In the context of multilevel longitudinal data, where sample units are collected in clusters, an important aspect that should be accounted for is the unobserved heterogeneity between sample units and between clusters. For this aim we propose an approach based on nested hidden (latent) Markov chains, which are associated to every sample unit and to every cluster. The approach allows us to account for the mentioned forms of unobserved heterogeneity in a dynamic fashion; it also allows us to account for the correlation which may arise between the responses provided by the units belonging to the same cluster. Given the complexity in computing the manifest distribution of these response variables, we make inference on the proposed model through a composite likelihood function based on all the possible pairs of subjects within every cluster. The proposed approach is illustrated through an application to a dataset concerning a sample of Italian workers in which a binary response variable for the worker receiving an illness benefit was repeatedly observed.

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