Kalman Filter or VAR Models to Predict Unemployment Rate in Romania?

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Abstract

This paper brings to light an economic problem that frequently appears in practice: For the same variable, more alternative forecasts are proposed, yet the decision-making process requires the use of a single prediction. Therefore, a forecast assessment is necessary to select the best prediction. The aim of this research is to propose some strategies for improving the unemployment rate forecast in Romania by conducting a comparative accuracy analysis of unemployment rate forecasts based on two quantitative methods: Kalman filter and vector-auto-regressive (VAR) models. The first method considers the evolution of unemployment components, while the VAR model takes into account the interdependencies between the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. According to the Granger causality test, the inflation rate in the first difference is a cause of the unemployment rate in the first difference, these data sets being stationary. For the unemployment rate forecasts for 2010-2012 in Romania, the VAR models (in all variants of VAR simulations) determined more accurate predictions than Kalman filter based on two state space models for all accuracy measures. According to mean absolute scaled error, the dynamic-stochastic simulations used in predicting unemployment based on the VAR model are the most accurate. Another strategy for improving the initial forecasts based on the Kalman filter used the adjusted unemployment data transformed by the application of the Hodrick-Prescott filter. However, the use of VAR models rather than different variants of the Kalman filter methods remains the best strategy in improving the quality of the unemployment rate forecast in Romania. The explanation of these results is related to the fact that the interaction of unemployment with inflation provides useful information for predictions of the evolution of unemployment related to its components (i.e., natural unemployment and cyclical component).

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