Suppose $X$ is a random variable with mean $0$ and variance $\sigma_x^2$.

How can I calculate mean and variance of $X^2$?

I calculated the mean like this \begin{equation*} \operatorname{Var}(X) = \operatorname{E}(X^{2}) - \operatorname{E}^{2}(X) \rightarrow \operatorname{E}(X^{2}) = \sigma_{x}^2 \end{equation*} but am stuck at the variance.

  • $\begingroup$ It depends on the distribution of $X$. $\endgroup$
    – Deep North
    Feb 9, 2018 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


If you have only the mean and variance of $X$ as 0 and $\sigma_x^2$, then there is insufficient information to calculate the variance of $X^2$, which is

$$ E[X^4] - E[X^2]^2 = E[X^4] - \sigma_x^4. $$

  • For a normal R.V. $\sim N(0, \sigma_x^2)$, $E[X] = 0, E[X^2] = \sigma_x^2, E[X^4] = 3 \sigma_x^4$.

  • For a uniform R.V. $\sim U(-1.5 \sigma_x, 1.5 \sigma_x)$, $E[X] = 0, E[X^2] = \sigma_x^2, E[X^4] = 9 / 5 \sigma_x^4$.

  • It's easy to build distributions for which this is infinite.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What exactly we should know about the distribution of $X$, to calculate the variance of the $X^2$? $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2021 at 18:34

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