Selection models in accounting research

Clive S. Lennox, Jere R. Francis, Zitian Whag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

827 Citations (SciVal)


This study explains the challenges associated with the Heckman (1979) procedure to control for selection bias, assesses the quality of its application in accounting research, and offers guidance for better implementation of selection models. A survey of 75 recent accounting articles in leading journals reveals that many researchers implement the technique in a mechanical way with relatively little appreciation of important econometric issues and problems surrounding its use. Using empirical examples motivated by prior research, we illustrate that selection models are fragile and can yield quite literally any possible outcome in response to fairly minor changes in model specification. We conclude with guidance on how researchers can better implement selection models that will provide more convincing evidence on potential selection bias, including the need to justify model specifications and careful sensitivity analyses with respect to robustness and multicollinearity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-616
Number of pages28
JournalAccounting Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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