Department of Educational Psychology


Date of this Version



Published in STRUCTURAL EQUATION MODELING, 8(3), 430–457. Copyright © 2001, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Used by permission.


A Monte Carlo simulation examined the performance of 4 missing data methods in structural equation models: full information maximum likelihood (FIML), listwise deletion, pairwise deletion, and similar response pattern imputation. The effects of 3 independent variables were examined (factor loading magnitude, sample size, and missing data rate) on 4 outcome measures: convergence failures, parameter estimate bias, parameter estimate efficiency, and model goodness of fit. Results indicated that FIML estimation was superior across all conditions of the design. Under ignorable missing data conditions (missing completely at random and missing at random), FIML estimates were unbiased and more efficient than the other methods. In addition, FIML yielded the lowest proportion of convergence failures and provided near-optimal Type 1 error rates across both simulations.