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Logistic mixed models for longitudinal binary data typically assume normally distributed random effects, which may be too restrictive if an underlying subpopulation structure exists. The paper illustrates the ease of implementing diagnostic tests and fitting random effects as a mixture of normal distributions to detect and address distributional misspecification of the random effects in a potential mover–stayer scenario. Methods are illustrated by using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia panel survey. The robustness of the normality assumption to violations characterized by a three‐component mixture of normal distributions was assessed via a simulation study. Adverse inferential impact of incorrectly assuming normality was identified for parameters directly related to the random effects, resulting in biased estimates and poor coverage rates for confidence intervals. The results support the general robustness of fixed effect parameters to non‐extreme distributional violations of the random effects.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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