Optimal Linear Instrumental Variables Approximations

Juan Carlos Escanciano, Wei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper studies the identification and estimation of the optimal linear approximation of a structural regression function. The parameter in the linear approximation is called the Optimal Linear Instrumental Variables Approximation (OLIVA). This paper shows that a necessary condition for standard inference on the OLIVA is also sufficient for the existence of an IV estimand in a linear model. The instrument in the IV estimand is unknown and may not be identified. A Two-Step IV (TSIV) estimator based on Tikhonov regularization is proposed, which can be implemented by standard regression routines. We establish the asymptotic normality of the TSIV estimator assuming neither completeness nor identification of the instrument. As an important application of our analysis, we robustify the classical Hausman test for exogeneity against misspecification of the linear structural model. We also discuss extensions to weighted least squares criteria. Monte Carlo simulations suggest an excellent finite sample performance for the proposed inferences. Finally, in an empirical application estimating the elasticity of intertemporal substitution (EIS) with US data, we obtain TSIV estimates that are much larger than their standard IV counterparts, with our robust Hausman test failing to reject the null hypothesis of exogeneity of real interest rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-246
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Econometrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Hausman test
  • Instrumental variables
  • Linear approximation
  • Misspecification
  • Nonparametric identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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