For a model, $y = \beta_0 + \beta_1 x + \epsilon$, does the variance for $\hat{\beta_0}$ and $\hat{\beta_1}$ always decrease when more datapoints are added?

I've decuded the variance expressions as: \begin{equation} Var[\hat{\beta_0}] = \sigma^2 (\frac{1}{n} + \frac{\bar{x}^2}{S_{xx}}), \end{equation} and \begin{equation} Var[\hat{\beta_1}] = \frac{\sigma^2}{S_{xx}}. \end{equation}

But I'm still yet to draw a conclusion, I can think of examples where $S_{xx}$ would remain constant if adding $x_i = 0$ to a set that already has $\bar{x} = 0$, so I don't think $Var[\hat{\beta_1}]$ has to decrease, however I'm not entirely sure. What can be said about $Var[\hat{\beta_0}]$? Obviously, it would decrease considering the same example as for $\hat{\beta_1}$ since $1/n$ naturally does, but can something be said in general?

Thank you.


1 Answer 1


Here is an example for when the estimated variance of the two coefficients is larger for a larger sample. (Your notation $\sigma^2$ might suggest that you are asking the question for the true error variance - here, of course, the additional data point also affects the error variance estimate.)

n <- 5
y <- rnorm(n)
y[5] <- 3
x <- rnorm(n)

plot(x[-n], y[-n], ylim=c(-1,4), pch=19, col="red")
points(x[n], y[n], col="blue", pch=19)
abline(lm(y~x), lwd=2, col="blue")
abline(lm(y[-n]~x[-n]), lwd=2, col="red")

Essentially, the blue additional point is an outlier in the y direction that will not affect the estimate for $\bar x$, but will have a large residual and hence affect the error variance estimate.

enter image description here


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