Mar 212009

MLwiN is one of the granddaddies of multi-level modelling software (the other being HLM).  Essentially, it is a 1990s-ish looking and sometimes quirky GUI wrapped around  an old DOS program (MLn). The one feature that set MLwiN apart in the late 1990s is point-and-click interface that allows you to build the equations for a multi-level in a stepwise fashion. The underlying command language is still slightly confusing and less than well documented, and some of the modern features (such as modelling categorical dependent variables) are implemented as external macros, which does not need to concern you unless something goes horribly wrong, which happens occassionally.

That said, MLwiN is reasonably fast, does now incorporate modern MCMC estimators, has an interface with WINBUGS and can be convinced to do most things you would possibly want to do with it.  I bought version 1.10 ca. 1998, received free upgrades to 2.02 and good support well until 2004/2005 or so.  These days, Stata, R and MPlus can all estimate multi-level models, but working with MLwiN may still be worthwhile for you (by the way, you can download the free stata2mlwin addon from UCLA academic technology to export your variables from Stata to MLwiN).

Rather amazingly, MLwiN is now freely available for anyone working in UK universities: just enter your details including your, and few days later, they will send you a download link.

Nov 032008

The US might face unprecedented levels of turnout in tomorrow’s election, but historically, the non-voters are the biggest camp in American politics. One intriguing explanation for this well-known fact is that low turnout could be a consequence of the very high (by any standard) levels of income inequality: because voters lack experience with universalistic institutions, they are less likely to adopt norms and values that foster participation in elections. This is the gist of an article that appeared recently (by social science standards) in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations. While the thesis is interesting enough, I did not find the evidence (design, operationalisation, statistical model) particularly convincing and consequentially embarked on a major replication exercise. As it turned out, there are indeed major problems with the original analysis, including a rather problematic application of the ever popular time-series cross-sectional approach (aka Beck&Katz). Last week, my own article on the (non-)relationship between inequality and turnout has finally appeared in the BJPIR. If you don’t have access to the journal, you can still download the preprint version (“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something True?”) from my homepage. And if you in turn find this rather unconvincing, you can download the replication data for the various inequality/turnout models and do your own analysis. Enjoy.
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