A Bayesian spatio-temporal analysis of markets during the Finnish 1860s famine

Abstract We develop a Bayesian spatio-temporal model to study pre-industrial grain market integration during the Finnish famine of the 1860s. Our model takes into account several problematic features often present when analysing multiple spatially interdependent time series. For example, compared with the error correction methodology commonly applied in econometrics, our approach allows simultaneous modelling of multiple interdependent time series avoiding cumbersome statistical testing needed to predetermine the market leader as a point of reference.

By Tiia-Maria Pasanen, Miikka Voutilainen, Jouni Helske and Harri Högmander in Bayesian Inference

June 20, 2022

Efficient Bayesian generalized linear models with time-varying coefficients: The walker package in R

Abstract The R package walker extends standard Bayesian general linear models to the case where the effects of the explanatory variables can vary in time. This allows, for example, to model the effects of interventions such as changes in tax policy which gradually increases their effect over time. The Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms powering the Bayesian inference are based on Hamiltonian Monte Carlo provided by Stan software, using a state space representation of the model to marginalise over the regression coefficients for efficient low-dimensional sampling.

bssm: Bayesian Inference of Non-linear and Non-Gaussian State Space Models in R

Abstract We present an R package bssm for Bayesian non-linear/non-Gaussian state space modelling. Unlike the existing packages, bssm allows for easy-to-use approximate inference for the latent states based on Gaussian approximations such as the Laplace approximation and the extended Kalman filter. The package accommodates also discretised diffusion latent state processes. The inference is based on fully automatic, adaptive Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) on the hyperparameters, with optional importance sampling post-correction to eliminate any approximation bias.

Clustering and Structural Robustness in Causal Diagrams

Abstract Graphs are commonly used to represent and visualize causal relations. For a small number of variables, this approach provides a succinct and clear view of the scenario at hand. As the number of variables under study increases, the graphical approach may become impractical, and the clarity of the representation is lost. Clustering of variables is a natural way to reduce the size of the causal diagram but it may erroneously change the essential properties of the causal relations if implemented arbitrarily.

By Santtu Tikka, Jouni Helske and Juha Karvanen in Causal Inference

November 8, 2021

Estimation of causal effects with small data in the presence of trapdoor variables

Abstract We consider the problem of estimating causal effects of interventions from observational data when well-known back-door and front-door adjustments are not applicable. We show that when an identifiable causal effect is subject to an implicit functional constraint that is not deducible from conditional independence relations, the estimator of the causal effect can exhibit bias in small samples. This bias is related to variables that we call trapdoor variables.