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# How large is large? Preliminary and relative guidelines for interpreting partial correlations in economics

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posted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by
An essential part of empirical economics research is the identification of the size of an empirical effect. Partial correlations offer a convenient statistically based measure of the strength of an economic relationship. A key question arises in their interpretation: When is a partial correlation large? This paper draws upon the observed distribution of 22,000 partial correlations from a diverse group of economics fields. The median absolute partial correlation from these fields is 0.173, which under Cohen?s (1988) conventional guidelines for zero order correlations is a small to moderate effect. The paper develops new guidelines for key qualitative categories (small, medium and large). According to the new guidelines, partial correlations that are larger than ? 0.33 can be deemed to be large. This is considerably different to Cohen?s guideline of ?0.50 for zero order correlations. Researchers and meta-analysts should exercise caution when applying Cohen?s guidelines to describe the importance of partial correlations in economics.

1-26

eng

## Notes

School working paper (Deakin University. School of Accounting, Economics and Finance) ; 2011/5 An essential part of empirical economics research is the identification of the size of an empirical effect. Partial correlations offer a convenient statistically based measure of the strength of an economic relationship. A key question arises in their interpretation: When is a partial correlation large? This paper draws upon the observed distribution of 22,000 partial correlations from a diverse group of economics fields. The median absolute partial correlation from these fields is 0.173, which under Cohen?s (1988) conventional guidelines for zero order correlations is a small to moderate effect. The paper develops new guidelines for key qualitative categories (small, medium and large). According to the new guidelines, partial correlations that are larger than ? 0.33 can be deemed to be large. This is considerably different to Cohen?s guideline of ?0.50 for zero order correlations. Researchers and meta-analysts should exercise caution when applying Cohen?s guidelines to describe the importance of partial correlations in economics.

## Publication classification

CN.1 Other journal article

2011, The Author

## Publisher

Deakin University, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Geelong, Vic.

## Series

School Working Paper - Economics Series ; SWP 2011/5

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