Quality & Quantity

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 59–74

Linear versus logistic regression when the dependent variable is a dichotomy


    • Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Oslo
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11135-007-9077-3

Cite this article as:
Hellevik, O. Qual Quant (2009) 43: 59. doi:10.1007/s11135-007-9077-3


The article argues against the popular belief that linear regression should not be used when the dependent variable is a dichotomy. The relevance of the statistical arguments against linear analyses, that the tests of significance are inappropriate and that one risk getting meaningless results, are disputed. Violating the homoscedasticity assumption seems to be of little practical importance, as an empirical comparison of results shows nearly identical outcomes for the two kinds of significance tests. When linear analysis of dichotomous dependent variables is seen as acceptable, there in many situations exist compelling arguments of a substantive nature for preferring this approach to logistic regression. Of special importance is the intuitive meaningfulness of the linear measures as differences in probabilities, and their applicability in causal (path) analysis, in contrast to the logistic measures.


Logistic regression Binary variables Significance tests

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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007