BIC extensions for order-constrained model selection

Joris Mulder*, A. E. Raftery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The Schwarz or Bayesian information criterion (BIC) is one of the most widely used tools for model comparison in social science research. The BIC, however, is not suitable for evaluating models with order constraints on the parameters of interest. This article explores two extensions of the BIC for evaluating order-constrained models, one where a truncated unit information prior is used under the order-constrained model and the other where a truncated local unit information prior is used. The first prior is centered on the maximum likelihood estimate, and the latter prior is centered on a null value. Several analyses show that the order-constrained BIC based on the local unit information prior works better as an Occam’s razor for evaluating order-constrained models and results in lower error probabilities. The methodology based on the local unit information prior is implemented in the R package “BICpack” which allows researchers to easily apply the method for order-constrained model selection. The usefulness of the methodology is illustrated using data from the European Values Study.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalSociological Methods & Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Bayesian information criterion
  • European Values Study
  • model selection
  • order constraints
  • truncated priors

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