Structural Estimation Using Sequential Monte Carlo Methods

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This dissertation aims to introduce a new sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) based estimation framework for structural models used in macroeconomics and industrial organization. Current Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) estimation methods for structural models suffer from slow Markov chain convergence, which means parameter and state spaces of interest might not be properly explored unless huge numbers of samples are simulated. This could lead to insurmountable computational burdens for the estimation of those structural models that are expensive to solve. In contrast, SMC methods rely on the principle of sequential importance sampling to jointly evolve simulated particles, thus bypassing the dependence on Markov chain convergence altogether. This dissertation will explore the feasibility and the potential benefits to estimating structural models using SMC based methods.

Chapter 1 casts the structural estimation problem in the form of inference of hidden Markov models and demonstrates with a simple growth model.

Chapter 2 presents the key ingredients, both conceptual and theoretical, to successful SMC parameter estimation strategies in the context of structural economic models.

Chapter 3, based on Chen, Petralia and Lopes (2010), develops SMC estimation methods for dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models. SMC algorithms allow a simultaneous filtering of time-varying state vectors and estimation of fixed parameters. We first establish empirical feasibility of the full SMC approach by comparing estimation results from both MCMC batch estimation and SMC on-line estimation on a simple neoclassical growth model. We then estimate a large scale DSGE model for the Euro area developed in Smets and Wouters (2003) with a full SMC approach, and revisit the on-going debate between the merits of reduced form and structural models in the macroeconomics context by performing sequential model assessment between the DSGE model and various VAR/BVAR models.

Chapter 4 proposes an SMC estimation procedure and show that it readily applies to the estimation of dynamic discrete games with serially correlated endogenous state variables. I apply this estimation procedure to a dynamic oligopolistic game of entry using data from the generic pharmaceutical industry and demonstrate that the proposed SMC method can potentially better explore the parameter posterior space while being more computationally efficient than MCMC estimation. In addition, I show how the unobserved endogenous cost paths could be recovered using particle smoothing, both with and without parameter uncertainty. Parameter estimates obtained using this SMC based method largely concur with earlier findings that spillover effect from market entry is significant and plays an important role in the generic drug industry, but that it might not be as high as previously thought when full model uncertainty is taken into account during estimation.





Chen, Hao (2011). Structural Estimation Using Sequential Monte Carlo Methods. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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