Cemmap Working Paper (CWP36/17)

Quantile regression 40 years on

Date: 10 August 2017
Publisher: The IFS
DOI: 10.1920/wp.cem.2017.3617

Since Quetelet's work in the 19th century social science has iconi fied "the average man", that hypothetical man without qualities who is comfortable with his head in the oven, and his feet in a bucket of ice. Conventional statistical methods, since Quetelet, have sought to estimate the effects of policy treatments for this average man. But such effects are often quite heterogenous: medical treatments
may improve life expectancy, but also impose serious short term risks; reducing class sizes may improve performance of good students, but not help weaker ones or vice versa. Quantile regression methods can help to explore these heterogeneous effects. Some recent developments in quantile regression methods are surveyed below.