Statistical Methods & Applications

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 569–596 | Cite as

On the efficiency of Gini’s mean difference

  • Carina GerstenbergerEmail author
  • Daniel Vogel


The asymptotic relative efficiency of the mean deviation with respect to the standard deviation is 88 % at the normal distribution. In his seminal 1960 paper A survey of sampling from contaminated distributions, J. W. Tukey points out that, if the normal distribution is contaminated by a small \(\epsilon \)-fraction of a normal distribution with three times the standard deviation, the mean deviation is more efficient than the standard deviation—already for \(\epsilon < 1\,\%\). In the present article, we examine the efficiency of Gini’s mean difference (the mean of all pairwise distances). Our results may be summarized by saying Gini’s mean difference combines the advantages of the mean deviation and the standard deviation. In particular, an analytic expression for the finite-sample variance of Gini’s mean difference at the normal mixture model is derived by means of the residue theorem, which is then used to determine the contamination fraction in Tukey’s 1:3 normal mixture distribution that renders Gini’s mean difference and the standard deviation equally efficient. We further compute the influence function of Gini’s mean difference, and carry out extensive finite-sample simulations.


Influence function Mean deviation Median absolute deviation Normal mixture distribution Residue theorem Robustness \(Q_n\) Standard deviation 

Mathematics Subject Classification

62G35 62G05 62G20 

Jel Classification




We are indebted to Herold Dehling for introducing us to the theory of U-statistics, to Roland Fried for introducing us to robust statistics, and to Alexander Dürre, who has demonstrated the benefit of complex analysis for solving statistical problems. Both authors were supported in part by the Collaborative Research Centre 823 Statistical modelling of nonlinear dynamic processes.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät für MathematikRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Complex Systems and Mathematical BiologyUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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