Using stata, I generate two random variables and regress them with each other.

set obs 1000
gen rand1 = uniform()
gen rand2 = uniform()
reg rand1 rand2, nocons
reg rand2 rand1, nocons

And I found weird patterns.

  1. How can both regressions have coefficient smaller than 1? Intuitively I can't get it.

  2. Why are coefficients from both regressions always smaller than 1?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See stats.stackexchange.com/questions/22718. Notice, too, that the formula for the slope estimate is a ratio of random variables. The expectation of the numerator is $1/4$ and that of the denominator is $1/3,$ implying that with large samples (and 1000 is sufficiently large) the expectation of the slope estimate will be close to $1/4/(1/3) = 3/4.$ $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    May 31, 2020 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ Re (2): it's not always the case that both coefficient estimates are less than $1.$ This becomes clear when you use a smaller value of obs. Indeed, with obs set to 1, the expected value of either regression coefficient is infinite! $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Jun 1, 2020 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


Note that omitting the intercept the estimate for the coefficient $\beta$ is given by <source>

$\hat{\beta} = \frac{\sum^n_{i=1} x_iy_i}{\sum^n_{i=1}x_i^2}$

in other words dividing the sum of $x$ times $y$ by the sum of squares of $x$ $-$ can also take the mean. Due to the random ordering matching $x$ and $y$ values in the linear model you end up with a smaller numerator and as a result your coefficient will be smaller than 1.

I must admit that this is probably not an entirely satisfactory answer as it is based mainly on observed patterns; I don't know if there is a better mathematical explanation for it. You can check the former for yourself though. Just take the sum of $xy$ as they were generated and compare it with the sum when you order both variables (dividing them by the sum of squares of $x$).

  • $\begingroup$ Hi: Note that the coefficient of the regression based on $y \sim x$ is not one over the coefficient of the regression based on $x \sim y$, if that's why you're puzzled by why they are both less than 1.0. $\endgroup$
    – mlofton
    May 30, 2020 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @mlofton I know that. But if the line emanating from (0,0) is lower than 45 degree line, I am wondering about the condition under which the opposite could be also lower than 45 degree line. $\endgroup$
    – user42459
    May 31, 2020 at 0:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The mathematical explanation is cauchy schwarz inequality/chebyshev inequality $\endgroup$
    – Pig
    May 31, 2020 at 17:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user42459: Pig is probably correct but the easiest thing to do would be to just calculate $\hat{\beta}$ in both cases. You have the data and the formula. $\endgroup$
    – mlofton
    May 31, 2020 at 21:29

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