DOI: 10.1027/1614-2241.1.3.86 ISSN:

Sufficient Sample Sizes for Multilevel Modeling

Cora J. M. Maas, Joop J. Hox
  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences

Abstract. An important problem in multilevel modeling is what constitutes a sufficient sample size for accurate estimation. In multilevel analysis, the major restriction is often the higher-level sample size. In this paper, a simulation study is used to determine the influence of different sample sizes at the group level on the accuracy of the estimates (regression coefficients and variances) and their standard errors. In addition, the influence of other factors, such as the lowest-level sample size and different variance distributions between the levels (different intraclass correlations), is examined. The results show that only a small sample size at level two (meaning a sample of 50 or less) leads to biased estimates of the second-level standard errors. In all of the other simulated conditions the estimates of the regression coefficients, the variance components, and the standard errors are unbiased and accurate.

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