**Version info**: Code for this page was tested in Mplus version 6.12.

Multinomial logistic regression is used to model nominal outcome variables, in which the log odds of the outcomes are modeled as a linear combination of the predictor variables.

**Please note:** The purpose of this page is to show how to use various data analysis commands.
It does not cover all aspects of the research process which researchers are expected to do. In
particular, it does not cover data cleaning and checking, verification of assumptions, model
diagnostics and potential follow-up analyses.

## Examples of multinomial logistic regression

Example 1. People’s occupational choices might be influenced by their parents’ occupations and their own education level. We can study the relationship of one’s occupation choice with education level and father’s occupation. The occupational choices will be the outcome variable which consists of categories of occupations.

Example 2. A biologist may be interested in food choices that alligators make. Adult alligators might have different preferences from young ones. The outcome variable here will be the types of food, and the predictor variables might be size of the alligators and other environmental variables.

Example 3. Entering high school students make program choices among general program, vocational program and academic program. Their choice might be modeled using their writing score and their social economic status.

## Description of the data

For our data analysis example, we will expand our third example with a
hypothetical data set. The data set contains variables on 200 students. The outcome variable is
**prog**, program type, where program type 1 is general, type 2 is academic,
and type 3 is vocational. The predictor variables are social economic status,
**ses**, a three-level categorical variable and writing score, **write**, a continuous variable. Let’s start with getting some descriptive statistics of the variables of interest. You can download the
data set here.

Data: File is D:hsbdemo.dat ; Variable: Names are id female ses schtyp prog read write math science socst honors awards cid; Missing are all (-9999) ; Analysis: Type = basic; Plot: type = plot1;RESULTS FOR BASIC ANALYSIS ESTIMATED SAMPLE STATISTICS Means ID FEMALE SES SCHTYP PROG ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ 1 100.500 0.545 2.055 1.160 2.025 Means READ WRITE MATH SCIENCE SOCST ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ 1 52.230 52.775 52.645 51.850 52.405 Means HONORS AWARDS CID ________ ________ ________ 1 0.265 1.670 10.430 Covariances ID FEMALE SES SCHTYP PROG ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ID 3333.250 FEMALE -2.507 0.248 SES 8.797 -0.045 0.522 SCHTYP 10.210 0.003 0.036 0.134 PROG -2.308 0.001 0.009 -0.024 0.474 READ 87.755 -0.270 2.167 0.323 -0.951 WRITE 101.907 1.208 1.417 0.441 -1.179 MATH 118.283 -0.137 1.840 0.337 -0.966 SCIENCE 183.260 -0.628 2.018 0.234 -1.291 SOCST 113.333 0.279 2.568 0.380 -1.440 HONORS 1.148 0.031 0.060 -0.002 -0.012 AWARDS 10.490 0.160 0.318 0.038 -0.152 CID 89.335 0.031 1.336 0.236 -0.766 Covariances READ WRITE MATH SCIENCE SOCST ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ READ 104.597 WRITE 57.707 89.394 MATH 63.297 54.555 87.329 SCIENCE 63.649 53.266 58.212 97.538 SOCST 68.067 61.236 54.489 49.191 114.681 HONORS 2.209 2.820 2.234 1.820 1.833 AWARDS 10.421 14.616 10.168 9.021 10.129 CID 50.576 44.807 46.073 47.645 40.461 Covariances HONORS AWARDS CID ________ ________ ________ HONORS 0.195 AWARDS 0.652 3.291 CID 1.611 7.832 33.485 Correlations ID FEMALE SES SCHTYP PROG ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ID 1.000 FEMALE -0.087 1.000 SES 0.211 -0.125 1.000 SCHTYP 0.482 0.015 0.137 1.000 PROG -0.058 0.004 0.017 -0.095 1.000 READ 0.149 -0.053 0.293 0.086 -0.135 WRITE 0.187 0.256 0.207 0.127 -0.181 MATH 0.219 -0.029 0.272 0.098 -0.150 SCIENCE 0.321 -0.128 0.283 0.065 -0.190 SOCST 0.183 0.052 0.332 0.097 -0.195 HONORS 0.045 0.139 0.190 -0.015 -0.038 AWARDS 0.100 0.177 0.243 0.057 -0.121 CID 0.267 0.011 0.320 0.111 -0.192 Correlations READ WRITE MATH SCIENCE SOCST ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ READ 1.000 WRITE 0.597 1.000 MATH 0.662 0.617 1.000 SCIENCE 0.630 0.570 0.631 1.000 SOCST 0.621 0.605 0.544 0.465 1.000 HONORS 0.489 0.676 0.542 0.418 0.388 AWARDS 0.562 0.852 0.600 0.503 0.521 CID 0.855 0.819 0.852 0.834 0.653 Correlations HONORS AWARDS CID ________ ________ ________ HONORS 1.000 AWARDS 0.815 1.000 CID 0.631 0.746 1.000

## Analysis methods you might consider

- Multinomial logistic regression: the focus of this page.
- Multinomial probit regression: similar to multinomial logistic regression but with independent normal error terms.
- Multiple-group discriminant function analysis: A multivariate method for multinomial outcome variables
- Multiple logistic regression analyses, one for each pair of outcomes: One problem with this approach is that each analysis is potentially run on a different sample. The other problem is that without constraining the logistic models, we can end up with the probability of choosing all possible outcome categories greater than 1.
- Collapsing number of categories to two and then doing a logistic regression: This approach suffers from loss of information and changes the original research questions to very different ones.
- Ordinal logistic regression: If the outcome variable is truly ordered and if it also satisfies the assumption of proportional odds, then switching to ordinal logistic regression will make the model more parsimonious.
- Alternative-specific multinomial probit regression: allows different error structures therefore allows to relax the independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA, see below “Things to Consider”) assumption. This requires that the data structure be choice-specific.
- Nested logit model: also relaxes the IIA assumption, also requires the data structure be choice-specific.

## Multinomial logistic regression

Below we show how to regress **prog** on **ses** and **write** in a
multinomial logit model in Mplus. We specify that the dependent variable,
prog, is an unordered categorical variable using the Nominal option. Mplus
will not automatically dummy-code categorical variables for you, so in order to
get separate coefficients for ses groups 1 and 2 relative to ses group 3, we
must create dummy variables using the Define command. We include our newly
created dummy variables, ses1 and ses2, in both the Usevariables option and the
Model command. In the multinomial logit model, one
outcome group is used as the “reference group” (also called a base category), and the
coefficients for all other outcome groups describe how the independent variables
are related to the probability of being in that outcome group versus the reference
group. Mplus automatically uses the last
category of the dependent variable as the base category or comparison group,
which in this case is the vocational category.
Looking at the syntax below, in the model statement we have entered “**prog#1
prog#2 on ses1 ses2 write**.” Mplus uses a variable name followed by a pound sign
and a number to refer to the categories of the nominal dependent variable, except the final category,
which is the reference group and cannot be referred to in the model statement
(if you try, Mplus will issue an error message). Thus the
line included in our model statement indicates that we want to regress both
levels of **prog** on **ses**(as dummy variables) and **write**.
Additionally, by default for multinomial logistic regression, Mplus calculates
robust standard errors.

Data: File is C:UsersalinDocumentsmplus_andyhsbdemo.dat ; Variable: Names are id female ses schtyp prog read write math science socst honors awards cid; Missing are all (-9999) ; Usevariables are prog write ses1 ses2; Nominal is prog; Define: ses1 = ses == 1; ses2 = ses == 2; Model: prog#1 prog#2 on ses1 ses2 write;MODEL FIT INFORMATION Number of Free Parameters 8 Loglikelihood H0 Value -179.982 H0 Scaling Correction Factor 1.016 for MLR Information Criteria Akaike (AIC) 375.963 Bayesian (BIC) 402.350 Sample-Size Adjusted BIC 377.005 (n* = (n + 2) / 24) MODEL RESULTS Two-Tailed Estimate S.E. Est./S.E. P-Value PROG#1 ON SES1 0.180 0.651 0.277 0.782 SES2 -0.645 0.602 -1.071 0.284 WRITE 0.056 0.024 2.276 0.023 PROG#2 ON SES1 -0.983 0.612 -1.604 0.109 SES2 -1.274 0.524 -2.430 0.015 WRITE 0.114 0.022 5.208 0.000 Intercepts PROG#1 -2.546 1.331 -1.914 0.056 PROG#2 -4.236 1.206 -3.511 0.000 LOGISTIC REGRESSION ODDS RATIO RESULTS PROG#1 ON SES1 1.197 SES2 0.525 WRITE 1.057 PROG#2 ON SES1 0.374 SES2 0.280 WRITE 1.120

- In the output above we see the final log likelihood (-179.982), which can be used in comparisons of nested models.
- Under the heading “Information Criteria” we see the Akaike and Bayesian information criterion values. Both the AIC and the BIC are measures of fit with some correction for the complexity of the model, but the BIC has a stronger correction for parsimony. In both cases, lower values indicate better fit of the model.
- The output above has two parts, labeled with the categories of the
outcome variable
**prog**. They correspond to the two equations below:$$ln\left(\frac{P(prog=general)}{P(prog=vocational)}\right) = b_{10} + b_{11}(ses=1) + b_{12}(ses=2) + b_{13}write$$ $$ln\left(\frac{P(prog=academic)}{P(prog=vocational)}\right) = b_{20} + b_{21}(ses=1) + b_{22}(ses=2) + b_{23}write$$where \(b\)’s are the regression coefficients.

- A one-unit increase in the variable
**write**is associated with a 0.056 increase in the relative log odds of being in general program vs. vocational program . - A one-unit increase in the variable
**write**is associated with a 0.114 increase in the relative log odds of being in academic program vs. vocational program. - The relative log odds of being in general program vs. in vocational program will
decrease by 0.645 if moving from the highest level of
**ses**(**ses**==3) to the middle level of**ses**(**ses**==2).

- A one-unit increase in the variable

The ratio of the probability of choosing one outcome category over the probability of choosing the baseline category is often referred to as relative risk (and it is also sometimes referred to as odds as we have just used to described the regression parameters above). Relative risk can be obtained by exponentiating the linear equations above, yielding regression coefficients that are relative risk ratios for a unit change in the predictor variable. These relative risk ratios can be found in the Logistic Regression Odds Ratio Results section of the output.

- The relative risk ratio for a one-unit increase in the variable
**write**is 1.057 (exp(0.056) from the Model Results output) for being in general program vs. vocational program. - The relative risk ratio switching from
**ses**= 3 to 1 is 1.197(exp(0.180) from the Model Results output) for being in general program vs. vocational program. In other words, the expected risk of staying in the general program is higher for subjects who are low in**ses**.

## Things to consider

- The Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives (IIA) assumption: roughly, the IIA assumption means that adding or deleting alternative outcome categories does not affect the odds among the remaining outcomes.
- Diagnostics and model fit: unlike logistic regression where there are many statistics for performing model diagnostics, it is not as straightforward to do diagnostics with multinomial logistic regression models. For the purpose of detecting outliers or influential data points, one can run separate logit models and use the diagnostics tools on each model.
- Pseudo-R-Squared: the R-squared offered in the output is basically the change in terms of log-likelihood from the intercept-only model to the current model. It does not convey the same information as the R-square for linear regression, even though it is still “the higher, the better”.
- Sample size: multinomial regression uses a maximum likelihood estimation method, it requires a large sample size. It also uses multiple equations. This implies that it requires an even larger sample size than ordinal or binary logistic regression.
- Complete or quasi-complete separation: Complete separation implies that the outcome variable separates a predictor variable completely, leading to perfect prediction by the predictor variable. Perfect prediction means that only one value of a predictor variable is associated with only one value of the response variable. You can do a two-way tabulation of the outcome variable with the problematic variable to look for separation, and if detected, rerun the model without the problematic variable.
- Empty cells or small cells: You should check for empty or small cells by doing a cross-tabulation between categorical predictors and the outcome variable. If a cell has very few cases (a small cell), the model may become unstable or it might not even run at all.

## See also

## References

- Long, J. S. and Freese, J. (2006) Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables Using Stata, Second Edition. College Station, Texas: Stata Press.
- Hosmer, D. and Lemeshow, S. (2000) Applied Logistic Regression (Second Edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
- Agresti, A. (1996) An Introduction to Categorical Data Analysis. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.