Surpassing Simple Aggregation: Advanced Strategies for Analyzing Contextual-Level Outcomes in Multilevel Models

Dominik Becker, Wiebke Breustedt, Christina Isabel Zuber

Abstract


This article introduces two advanced analytical strategies for analyzing contextual-level outcomes in multilevel models: the multilevel SEM and the two-step approach. Since these strategies are seldom used in comparative survey research, we first discuss their methodological and statistical advantages over the more commonly applied approach of group mean aggregation. We then illustrate these advantages in an empirical analysis of the effect of citizens' support for democratic values at the individual level on a contextual-level outcome – the persistence of democracy – drawing on data from the World Values Survey and the Quality of Government project. Whereas we found no significant effect of support for democratic values in the model using simple group mean aggregation, citizens' support for democratic values was a significant predictor of democracies' estimated survival rate when applying latent aggregation in multilevel SEM and the two-step approach. The article corroborates previous concerns with simple aggregation and demonstrates how researchers can improve the validity of their analyses of contextual-level outcomes by using alternative strategies of aggregation.

Keywords


transformational mechanisms; contextual level outcomes; multilevel analysis; sampling error; democratic stability; democratic values

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12758/mda.2017.05

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Copyright (c) 2018 Dominik Becker, Wiebke Breustedt, Christina Isabel Zuber

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