The Annals of Statistics

Bayesian empirical likelihood for quantile regression

Yunwen Yang and Xuming He

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Bayesian inference provides a flexible way of combining data with prior information. However, quantile regression is not equipped with a parametric likelihood, and therefore, Bayesian inference for quantile regression demands careful investigation. This paper considers the Bayesian empirical likelihood approach to quantile regression. Taking the empirical likelihood into a Bayesian framework, we show that the resultant posterior from any fixed prior is asymptotically normal; its mean shrinks toward the true parameter values, and its variance approaches that of the maximum empirical likelihood estimator. A more interesting case can be made for the Bayesian empirical likelihood when informative priors are used to explore commonality across quantiles. Regression quantiles that are computed separately at each percentile level tend to be highly variable in the data sparse areas (e.g., high or low percentile levels). Through empirical likelihood, the proposed method enables us to explore various forms of commonality across quantiles for efficiency gains. By using an MCMC algorithm in the computation, we avoid the daunting task of directly maximizing empirical likelihood. The finite sample performance of the proposed method is investigated empirically, where substantial efficiency gains are demonstrated with informative priors on common features across several percentile levels. A theoretical framework of shrinking priors is used in the paper to better understand the power of the proposed method.

Article information

Ann. Statist. Volume 40, Number 2 (2012), 1102-1131.

First available in Project Euclid: 18 July 2012

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Digital Object Identifier

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 62J05: Linear regression 62F12: Asymptotic properties of estimators
Secondary: 62G20: Asymptotic properties

Efficiency empirical likelihood high quantiles prior posterior


Yang, Yunwen; He, Xuming. Bayesian empirical likelihood for quantile regression. Ann. Statist. 40 (2012), no. 2, 1102--1131. doi:10.1214/12-AOS1005.

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Supplemental materials

  • Supplementary material: Supplement to “Bayesian empirical likelihood for quantile regression”. The supplementary material contains additional details on the implementation of the Bayesian computations used in the empirical studies reported in this paper.