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Biometrics. 1991 Sep;47(3):795-811.

A comparison of several point estimators of the odds ratio in a single 2 x 2 contingency table.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The relative performance of the unconditioned maximum likelihood estimators (UMLEs), conditional MLEs (CMLEs), and Jewell-type estimators of the odds ratio (OR) and its logarithm were investigated in sets of single 2 x 2 contingency tables. The tables were generated by complete enumeration of all possible cell frequencies consistent with a single fixed margin. The bias, mean squared error (MSE), and average absolute error (AAE) were computed for all estimators using the individual table probabilities as weights. The results showed that, for the OR, Jewell's estimator usually had smaller bias, MSE, and AAE than either of the MLEs. While the differences were often slight for MSE and AAE, for bias it was sometimes substantial. For the log(OR), the UMLE usually had the lowest bias, and its MSE and AAE were only slightly greater than those for the other estimators. Overall, we recommend estimation on the log scale using the UMLE. If OR is to be estimated, Jewell's method had strong merit, although it is nonsymmetric with respect to the table orientation. In view of this, the UMLE may again be favoured in some situations.

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