Date of this Version
In small samples it is well known that the standard methods for estimating variance components in a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM), pseudo-likelihood and maximum likelihood, yield estimates that are biased downward. An important consequence of this is that inferences on fixed effects will have inflated Type I error rates because their precision is overstated. We introduce a new method for estimating parameters in GLMMs that applies a Firth bias adjustment to the maximum likelihood-based GLMM estimating algorithm. We apply this technique to one- and two-treatment logistic regression models with a single random effect. We show simulation results that demonstrate that the Firth-adjusted variance component estimates are substantially less biased than maximum likelihood estimates and that inferences using the Firth estimates maintain their Type I error rates more closely than the standard methods.
Adviser: Walter W. Stroup