Efficient pairwise composite likelihood estimation for spatial-clustered data

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Summary

Spatial-clustered data refer to high-dimensional correlated measurements collected from units or subjects that are spatially clustered. Such data arise frequently from studies in social and health sciences. We propose a unified modeling framework, termed as GeoCopula, to characterize both large-scale variation, and small-scale variation for various data types, including continuous data, binary data, and count data as special cases. To overcome challenges in the estimation and inference for the model parameters, we propose an efficient composite likelihood approach in that the estimation efficiency is resulted from a construction of over-identified joint composite estimating equations. Consequently, the statistical theory for the proposed estimation is developed by extending the classical theory of the generalized method of moments. A clear advantage of the proposed estimation method is the computation feasibility. We conduct several simulation studies to assess the performance of the proposed models and estimation methods for both Gaussian and binary spatial-clustered data. Results show a clear improvement on estimation efficiency over the conventional composite likelihood method. An illustrative data example is included to motivate and demonstrate the proposed method.

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