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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 2009


In this paper we focus on two major issues that surround testing for a unit root in practice, namely, (i) uncertainty as to whether or not a linear deterministic trend is present in the data and (ii) uncertainty as to whether the initial condition of the process is (asymptotically) negligible or not. In each case simple testing procedures are proposed with the aim of maintaining good power properties across such uncertainties. For the first issue, if the initial condition is negligible, quasi-differenced (QD) detrended (demeaned) Dickey–Fuller-type unit root tests are near asymptotically efficient when a deterministic trend is (is not) present in the data generating process. Consequently, we compare a variety of strategies that aim to select the detrended variant when a trend is present, and the demeaned variant otherwise. Based on asymptotic and finite-sample evidence, we recommend a simple union of rejections-based decision rule whereby the unit root null hypothesis is rejected whenever either of the detrended or demeaned unit root tests yields a rejection. Our results show that this approach generally outperforms more sophisticated strategies based on auxiliary methods of trend detection. For the second issue, we again recommend a union of rejections decision rule, rejecting the unit root null if either of the QD or ordinary least squares (OLS) detrended/demeaned Dickey–Fuller-type tests rejects. This procedure is also shown to perform well in practice, simultaneously exploiting the superior power of the QD (OLS) detrended/demeaned test for small (large) initial conditions.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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We are extremely grateful to Peter Phillips and five anonymous referees for their helpful and encouraging comments on the scope and content of earlier drafts of this paper. These have enabled us to make significant improvements to the paper.



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