We show that the maximum likelihood estimators (MLEs) of the fixed effects and within-cluster correlation are consistent in a heteroscedastic nested-error regression (HNER) model with completely unknown within-cluster variances under mild conditions. The result implies that the empirical best linear unbiased prediction (EBLUP) method for small area estimation is valid in such a case. We also show that ignoring the heteroscedasticity can lead to inconsistent estimation of the within-cluster correlation and inferior predictive performance. A jackknife measure of uncertainty for the EBLUP is developed under the HNER model. Simulation studies are carried out to investigate the finite-sample performance of the EBLUP and MLE under the HNER model, with comparisons to those under the nested-error regression model in various situations, as well as that of the jackknife measure of uncertainty. The well-known Iowa crops data is used for illustration.
- Jackknife MSPE estimator
- Maximum likelihood estimation
- Nuisance parameters
- Small area estimation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistics and Probability
- Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty