Let's say I have the following model:

$$\ln\Big(\frac{\mathbb{P}(Y_i = 1 | X_i)}{\mathbb{P}(Y_i = 0 | X_i)}\Big) = \beta_0 + \beta_1 X_{1,i} + \beta_2 X_{2,i}$$

Let $\rho = \frac{\mathbb{P}(Y_i = 1 | X_i)}{\mathbb{P}(Y_i = 0 | X_i)}$.

Then: $$\frac{\partial \ln\rho}{\partial X_1} = \frac{\partial \ln\rho}{\partial \rho} \frac{\partial \rho}{\partial X_1}= \frac{\partial \rho}{\rho} \frac{1}{\partial X_1} = \beta_1$$ So if $\partial X_1 = 1$ then $\frac{\partial \rho}{\rho} = \beta_1$.

Similarly, let $\ln\rho^0$ increase to $\ln\rho^1$ after the unit increase in $X_1$. If this is so, then: $$\ln\rho^1 - \ln\rho^0 = \beta_1 \\ \implies \frac{\rho^1}{\rho^0} = e^{\beta_1}$$


Shouldn't it always hold that $e^{\beta_1} - 1 = \beta_1$ when $\partial X_1 = 1$?

My estimated model returned $\hat{\beta_1} = 0.0326$ and:

  • $0.0326 \neq \big[ e^{\hat{\beta_1}} - 1 = 0.0332 \big]$

How come these two effects are not the same?

  • $\begingroup$ By $\delta$, I assume you are referring to differentials? If this is so, then it makes no sense to state $\delta X_1 = 1$. You are confusing differentials with finite differences. $\endgroup$
    – user277126
    Nov 30, 2021 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I mean the partial derivative of a function with respect to $X_1$ (I added the term $\beta_2 X_2$). $\endgroup$
    – Arturo Sbr
    Nov 30, 2021 at 5:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You do not have the power to set the value of the differential of $X_1$. The interpretation is made like simple linear regression: using a finite difference (1-unit increase). $\endgroup$
    – user277126
    Nov 30, 2021 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ You might find the extended discussion at stats.stackexchange.com/questions/133623 to be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Nov 30, 2021 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Let $\ln(\rho)=\beta_0+\beta_1x_1+\beta_2x_2$. This is called the log-odds. The partial derivative of $\ln(\rho)$ with respect to $x_1$ is then

$$\frac{\partial}{\partial x_1}\ln(\rho)=\frac{1}{\rho}\cdot\frac{\partial}{\partial x_1}\rho=\frac{\beta_1}{\beta_0+\beta_1x_1+\beta_2x_2}.$$ As correctly noted in comments, there is no way of setting the value of the differential of $x_1$.

Should you wish to assess the effect of a unit increase in $x_1$, the way is using log of the odds ratio: Denote $x,x'$ two vectors where $x'_1=x_1+1$ and the rest of the components unchanged. The log-odds ratio is then:


Another explanation, a bit more abstract: in logistic regression, much like in linear regression, we compute the linear predictor $\theta_i=x_i^T\beta$. In order to obtain a probability, we put it into the sigmoid function:


The inverse of the sigmoid function is called the logit function:

$$logit(\pi_i)=\log\left(\frac{\pi_i}{1-\pi_i}\right)=\log\left(\frac{\frac{e^{\theta_i}}{1+e^{\theta_i}}}{\frac{1}{1+e^{\theta_i}}}\right)=\log(e^{\theta_i})=\theta_i$$ If you look closely, $logit(\pi_i)$ is exactly the log-odds for $x_i$, so it all connects.


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