# Interaction effects and group comparisons Richard Williams, University of Notre Dame, Last revised February 20, 2015

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1 Interaction effects and group comparisons Richard Williams, University of Notre Dame, Last revised February 20, 2015 Note: This handout assumes you understand factor variables, which were introduced in Stata 11. If not, see the first appendix on factor variables. The other appendices are optional. If you are using an older version of Stata or are using a Stata program that does not support factor variables see the appendix on Interaction effects the old fashioned way; also, the appendices on the nestreg command (which does not support factor variables) and the xi prefix (an older alternative to the use of factor variables) may also be useful. Finally, there is an appendix that shows the equivalences between t-tests and one-way ANOVA with a regression model that only has dummy variables. Also, there are a lot of equations in the text, e.g. for calculations of incremental F tests. You can just skip over most of these if you are content to trust Stata to do the calculations for you. Alternative strategy for testing whether parameters differ across groups: Dummy variables and interaction terms. We have previously shown how to do a global test of whether any coefficients differ across groups. This can be a good starting point in that it tells us whether any differences exist across groups. It may also be useful when we have good reason for believing that the models for two or more groups are substantially different. This approach, however, has some major limitations. First, it does not tell you which coefficients differ across groups. Possibilities include (a) only the intercepts differ across groups (b) the intercepts and some subset of the slope coefficients differ across groups, or (c) all of the coefficients, both intercepts and slope coefficients, differ across groups. A related problem is that running separate models for each group can be quite unwieldy, estimating many more coefficients than may be necessary. It becomes even more unwieldy if there are multiple group characteristics you are interested in, e.g. race, gender and religion. Recall that, when extraneous parameters are estimated, it becomes more difficult to detect those effects that really do differ from zero. Further, theory may give you good reason for believing that the effects of only a few variables may differ across groups, rather than all of them. In this handout, we consider an alternative strategy for examining group differences that is generally easier and more flexible. Specifically, by incorporating dummy variables for group membership and interaction terms for group membership with other independent variables, we can better identify what effects, if any, differ across groups. Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 1

2 Model 0/Baseline Model: No differences across groups. As before, we can begin with a model that does not allow for any differences in model parameters across groups.. use clear. reg income educ jobexp F( 2, 497) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = educ jobexp _cons est store baseline Model 1. Only the intercepts differ across groups. To allow the intercepts to differ by race, we add the dummy variable black to the model.. reg income educ jobexp i.black F( 3, 496) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = educ jobexp black _cons est store intonly There are several ways to test whether the intercepts differ by race. (a) Since there are only two groups, we can look at the t value for black. It is highly significant implying that the intercepts do differ. Note, however, that if there were more than 2 groups, a t test would not be sufficient. (b) We can also do a Wald test. Since only one parameter is being tested, the F value will, as usual, be the square of the corresponding T value. (Since we are using factor variables, you refer to 1.black rather than black). Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 2

3 . test 1.black ( 1) 1.black = 0 F( 1, 496) = Prob > F = However, I find that testparm is often a little easier to use, especially if the categorical variables have more than 2 categories. This is because I can just copy part of the syntax that was used in the estimation command, without having to get the numbers correct for coefficients (e.g. 1.black) like I did above. From here on out I will show the commands for both test and testparm but I will only show the output from testparm.. testparm i.black ( 1) 1.black = 0 F( 1, 496) = Prob > F = (c) If we aren t using software that makes life so simple for us, we can compute an incremental F test. In this case, the constrained model is the baseline model, which forced all parameters to be the same for blacks and whites. SSE c = 7383, DFE c = 497, N = 500. The unconstrained model is Model 1, which allows the intercepts to differ. SSE u = 6975, DFE u = 496, N = 500. The incremental F is then F J, N K 1 = = 2 2 ( SSEc SSEu) * ( N K 1) ( Ru Rc ) *( N K 1) = 2 SSE * J ( 1 R ) * J u ( ) * 496 ( ) * 496 = = ( ) u Confirming with the ftest command,. ftest intonly baseline Assumption: baseline nested in intonly F( 1, 496) = prob > F = You can also do a likelihood ratio test:. lrtest intonly baseline Likelihood-ratio test LR chi2(1) = (Assumption: baseline nested in intonly) Prob > chi2 = Interpretation of a Model that allows only the Intercepts to Differ. We ll simplify things a bit and consider the case where there is only one X variable. Suppose Y is regressed on X1 and Dummy1, where X1 is a continuous variable and Dummy1 is coded 1 if respondent is a member of group 1, 0 otherwise. Note that there are no interaction terms in the model. In this case, the model assumes that X1 has the same effect, i.e. slope, for both groups. However, the intercept is Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 3

4 different for group 1 than for others. The coefficient for Dummy1 tells you how much higher (or lower) the intercept is for group 1. Put another way, the reported intercept is the intercept for those not in Group 1; the intercept + b dummy1 is the intercept for group 1. For example, suppose that a = 0, b 1 = 3, b dummy1 = 2. Graphically, this looks something like That is, you get two parallel lines; but, for each value of X, the predicted value of Y is 2 units higher for group 1 than it is for group 2. Such a model implies some sort of flat advantage or disadvantage for members of group 1. For example, if Y was income and X was education, this kind of model would suggest that, for blacks and whites with equal levels of education, whites will average \$2,000 a year more. For both blacks and whites, however, each year of education is worth an additional \$3,000 on average. Hence, whites with 10 years of education will average \$2,000 more a year than blacks with 10 years of education, whites with 12 years of education will average \$2,000 more a year than blacks with 12 years of education, etc. If there are more than two groups, you can just include additional dummy terms, and add additional parallel lines to the above graph. The T value for the dummy variable tells you whether the intercept for that group differs significantly from the intercept for the reference group. Here is how we could generate such a graph for our race data using Stata. There are different ways of doing this (e.g. see the graphics in the Appendix on Interaction terms the old fashioned way). I am going to use the margins command (whose output can be hard to read so I won t show it, but try it on your own) and the marginsplot command (which, as you might guess, is graphically displaying all the numbers that were generated by margins).. est restore intonly (results intonly are active now). quietly margins black, at (jobexp = (1(1)21)) atmeans. marginsplot, noci scheme(sj) name(intonly_jobexp) Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 4

5 Variables that uniquely identify margins: jobexp black Adjusted Predictions of black Linear Prediction jobexp white black This graph plots the relationship between job experience and income for values of job experience that range between 1 year and 21 years (the observed range in the data). More specifically, because education is also in the model and I specified the atmeans option, it plots the relationship between job experience and income for individuals who have average values of education (13.16 years). I could have used some other value for education but doing so would have simply shifted both lines up or down by the same amount. As you see we get two parallel lines with the black line always 2.55 points below the white line. Doing the same thing for education,. quietly margins black, at (educ = (2(1)21)) atmeans. marginsplot, noci ylabel(#10) scheme(sj) name(intonly_educ) Variables that uniquely identify margins: educ black Adjusted Predictions of black Linear Prediction educ white black Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 5

6 Again you see two parallel lines with the black line 2.55 points below the white line. (Note that the Y axis is different in the two graphs because education has a stronger effect than job experience it produces a wider range of predicted values but the distance between the parallel lines is the same in both graphs.) Model 2. Intercepts and one or more (but not all) slope coefficients differ across groups. We will now regress Y on the IVs, black, and one interaction term. For reasons we will explain later, when using interaction terms you should generally include the variables that were used to compute the interaction, even if their effects are not statistically significant. In this case, this would mean including black and the IV that was used in computing the interaction term. Here is the Stata output for our current example, where we test to see if the effect of Job Experience is different for blacks and whites:. reg income educ jobexp i.black i.black#c.jobexp F( 4, 495) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = educ jobexp black black#c.jobexp _cons est store intjob The significant negative coefficient for black#c.jobexp indicates that blacks benefit less from job experience than do whites. Specifically, each year of job experience is worth about \$256 less for a black than it is for a white. Doing an incremental F test, we contrast the unconstrained model (immediately above) with the constrained model in which blackjob is excluded. (Note that Model 1 is now the constrained model; it is constrained in that the effect of jobexp is constrained to be the same across groups. Remember, the terms constrained and unconstrained are always relative, and that the unconstrained model in one contrast may the constrained model in another.) SSE u = 6829, R 2 u =.83005, K = 4. SSE c = 6975, R 2 u =.82642, J = 1. Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 6

7 F J, N 2 2 = ( SSEc SSEu) *( N K 1) ( Ru Rc ) *( N K 1) K 1 = 2 SSE * J ( 1 R ) * J u u = ( ) * 495 ( ) * 495 = = ( ) To confirm,. ftest intonly intjob Assumption: intonly nested in intjob F( 1, 495) = prob > F = The incremental F = the squared T value for blackjob. Or, doing a Wald test with the test or testparm command,. test 1.black#c.jobexp (Output not shown). testparm i.black#c.jobexp ( 1) 1.black#c.jobexp = 0 F( 1, 495) = Prob > F = Or, doing a likelihood ratio test,. lrtest intonly intjob Likelihood-ratio test LR chi2(1) = (Assumption: intonly nested in intjob) Prob > chi2 = Interpreting a Model in which the slopes are allowed to differ across groups. Suppose Y is regressed on X1, Dummy1, and Dummy1 * X1. The coefficient for Dummy1 * X1 will indicate how the effect of X1 differs across groups. For example, if the coefficient is positive, this means that X1 has a larger effect (i.e. more positive or less negative) in group 1 than it does in the other group. For example, we might think that whites gain more from each year of education than do blacks. Or, we might even think that the effect of a variable is positive in one group and zero or negative in another. The coefficient for X1 is the effect (i.e. slope) of X1 for those not in group 1; b 1 + b dummyx1 is the effect (slope) of X1 on those in group 1. When interaction terms are added, lines are no longer parallel, and you get something like Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 7

8 For both groups, as X increases, Y increases. However, the increase (slope) is much greater for group 1 than it is for group 2. The T value for the interaction term tells you whether the slope for that group differs significantly from the slope for the reference group. To generate such a graph in Stata,. quietly margins black, at (jobexp = (1(1)21)) atmeans. marginsplot, noci scheme(sj) name(intjob_jobexp) Variables that uniquely identify margins: jobexp black Adjusted Predictions of black Linear Prediction jobexp white black At low levels of job experience, there is virtually no difference between blacks and whites (people with little experience don t make much money no matter what their race is). As job experience goes up, the gap between blacks and whites gets bigger and bigger, because whites benefit more from job experience than blacks do. Model 3: All coefficients freely differ across groups. Before, we estimated separate models for blacks and whites. We can achieve the same thing by estimating a model that includes a Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 8

9 dummy variable for race and interaction terms for race with each independent variable. (Remember that this is called a Chow test.). reg income educ jobexp i.black i.black#c.educ i.black#c.jobexp F( 5, 494) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = educ jobexp black black#c.educ black#c.jobexp _cons est store intedjob Note that N u = 500, SSE u = 6770, DFE u = 494. These are the exact same numbers we got using the earlier procedure where we estimated separate models for each race, and (if we want to test the hypothesis that there are no differences across groups) the calculation of the incremental F is identical. Or, if you prefer to do the calculation using the constrained and unconstrained R 2 values, you get To confirm, F K + 1, N 2K 2 =. ftest baseline intedjob Assumption: baseline nested in intedjob F( 3, 494) = prob > F = ( Ru Rc ) *( N 2K 2) ( ) * 494 = = ( 1 R ) *( K + 1) ( ) * 3 Also, in Stata, you can easily use the test or testparm command:. test 1.black 1.black#c.educ 1.black#c.jobexp (output not shown). testparm i.black i.black#c.educ i.black#c.jobexp ( 1) 1.black = 0 ( 2) 1.black#c.educ = 0 ( 3) 1.black#c.jobexp = 0 F( 3, 494) = Prob > F = u Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 9

10 For good measure, we can add a likelihood ratio test (as usual, note that chi-square divided by DF is very close to the value of the corresponding F test). lrtest baseline intedjob Likelihood-ratio test LR chi2(3) = (Assumption: baseline nested in intedjob) Prob > chi2 = In the above tests, we are using the baseline model that did not allow for any differences across groups as our constrained model. It is also quite common (indeed, probably more common) to treat Model 1, the model that allows the intercepts to differ, as the constrained model. Hence, if we want to test whether either or both of the slope coefficients differ across groups, we can give the command. test 1.black#c.educ 1.black#c.jobexp (Output not shown). testparm i.black#c.educ i.black#c.jobexp ( 1) 1.black#c.educ = 0 ( 2) 1.black#c.jobexp = 0 F( 2, 494) = 7.47 Prob > F = Or, using incremental F tests,. ftest intonly intedjob Assumption: intonly nested in intedjob F( 2, 494) = 7.47 prob > F = The likelihood ratio test is (as usual, note that chi-square divided by DF is very close to the value of the corresponding F test). lrtest intonly intedjob Likelihood-ratio test LR chi2(2) = (Assumption: intonly nested in intedjob) Prob > chi2 = These tests tell us that at least one slope coefficient differs across groups. Further, the T values for blackjob and blacked indicate that both significantly differ from 0. You can plot these results using the same commands as before:. quietly margins black, at (jobexp = (1(1)21)) atmeans. marginsplot, noci scheme(sj) name(intedjob_jobexp) Variables that uniquely identify margins: jobexp black Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 10

11 Adjusted Predictions of black Linear Prediction jobexp white black. quietly margins black, at (educ = (2(1)21)) atmeans. marginsplot, noci ylabel(#10) scheme(sj) name(intedjob_educ) Variables that uniquely identify margins: educ black Adjusted Predictions of black Linear Prediction jobexp white black Comparing the two approaches. Now, let s compare these with our earlier results from when we ran separate models by race: Variable/Model Interactions Whites only Blacks Only EDUC BLACKED JOBEXP BLACKJOB (Constant) BLACK Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 11

12 Notice that the coefficients in the interactions model for the intercept, Educ, and Jobexp, are the same as the coefficients we got in the earlier whites-only equation. Further, if you add the interactions model coefficients for Intercept + Black, Educ + Blacked, and Jobexp + Blackjob, you get the coefficients from the earlier blacks-only equation. Why this works [read on your own if we don t have time in class]. The model with interaction terms represents an alternative way of expressing the unconstrained model; instead of running separate regressions for each group, we run a single regression, with additional variables. The coefficients for the dummy variable and the interaction terms indicate whether the groups differ or not. With the interactions approach, the unconstrained model can be written as Y = α + β X + β X + β Dummy + β ( Dummy * X1) + β ( Dummy * X 2) + ε dummy dummy* X1 dummy* X 2 But, for Group 0, Dummy and the interaction terms computed from it all equal 0; hence for group 0 this simplifies too Y = α + β X + β X + ε ( 0) ( 0) ( 0) = α + β X + β X + ε That is, both the model using interaction terms, and the separate model estimated only for group 0, will yield identical estimates of the intercept and the non-interaction terms (also known as the main effects). For group 1, where Dummy = 1, DUMMYX1 = X1, and DUMMYX2 = X2, the model simplifies to Y = α + β1 X1 + β2 X 2 + βdummy + βdummy* X1 X1 + βdummy* X 2 X 2 + ε = ( α + β ) + ( β + β ) X + ( β + β ) X + ε dummy 1 dummy* X1 1 2 dummy* X 2 2 ( 1) ( 1) ( 1) = α + β X + β X + ε That is, adding the main effect to the corresponding interaction term gives you the parameters for when a regression is run on Group 1 separately. The following tables illustrate how to go from parameters estimated using one approach to parameters estimated using the other: Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 12

13 Separate regressions α (0) (0) β 1 (0) β 2 α (1) - α (0) β (1) (0) 1 - β 1 β (1) (0) 2 - β 2 Interactions model α β 1 β 2 β dummy β dummyx1 β dummyx2 As the above make clear, The interaction terms indicate the difference in effects between group 1 and group 0. If the intercept is larger in group 1 than in group 0, the coefficient for the dummy variable will be positive. If the effect of a variable is larger (i.e. more positive or less negative) in group 1 than in group 0, then the interaction term will have a positive value. If the intercept and regression coefficients are the same in both populations, then the expected values of the interaction terms are all zero. Hence, a test of whether the interaction and dummy terms = zero (which is what the incremental F test is testing) is equivalent to a test of whether there are any group differences. Other comments on interaction effects and group comparisons Interpretation of the main effects (i.e. the non-interaction terms) can be a little confusing when interaction terms are in the model. We ll discuss these interpretation issues more, and ways to make the interpretation clearer, in a subsequent handout. People often get confused by the following: If lines are not parallel, at some point the group that seems to be behind has to have a predicted edge over the other group although that point may never actually occur within the observed or even any possible data. Consider the following hypothetical example where Education (X) is regressed on Income (Y), with separate lines for men and women: Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 13

14 Y Male Line Female Line 0 X In the present example, women happen to have a predicted edge over men when education equals 0. They d have an even bigger edge if you extended the lines to include negative values of job education. But, since you don t observe such negative and zero values in reality, the predicted lead for women at these values doesn t mean much. Estimating separate models for each group can result in loss of statistical power, i.e. you can be less likely to reject the null when it is false. Similarly, including too many interaction terms can lead to the same problem. As we have seen many times before, inclusion of extraneous variables (in this case, extraneous interaction terms) should be avoided if possible. The same model can include interactions involving more than one categorical variable. For example, it might be felt that the effect of education is different for whites than for nonwhites; and, the effect of income is different for women than for men. Hence, the model could include the variables EDUC*WHITE and INCOME*FEMALE. If you have a lot of categorical variables, you should think carefully about what interaction terms to include (if any). As noted earlier in the course, a failure to include interactions in models can lead to problems like heteroscedasticity, omitted variable bias, etc. One thing to be careful of: When comparing groups by estimating separate models, it is entirely possible that a variable will have a significant effect in one group and an insignificant effect in the other. Yet, the difference in effects between the groups may not be statistically significant. This might occur if, say, the sample size for one group is larger than the sample size for the other. It would therefore be very misleading to say that a variable was important for one group but not the other. Likewise, apparently large differences in effects may not be statistically significant. When comparing groups, you should do formal statistical tests such as those described here if you want to claim there are group differences; don t rely on just eyeballing. Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 14

15 Appendix: Factor Variables (Stata 11 and higher). Factor variables (not to be confused with factor analysis) were introduced in Stata 11. Factor variables provide a convenient means of computing and including dummy variables, interaction terms, and squared terms in models. They can be used with regress and several other (albeit not all) commands. For example,. use clear. reg income i.black educ jobexp F( 3, 496) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = black educ jobexp _cons The i.black notation tells Stata that black is a categorical variable rather than continuous. As the Stata 11 User Manual explains (section ), i.group is called a factor variable, although more correctly, we should say that group is a categorical variable to which factor-variable operators have been applied When you type i.group, it forms the indicators for the unique values of group. In other words, Stata, in effect, creates dummy variables coded 0/1 from the categorical variable. In this case, of course, black is already coded 0/1 but margins and other post-estimation commands still like you to use the i. notation so they know the variable is categorical (rather than, say, being a continuous variable that just happens to only have the values of 0/1 in this sample). But if, say, we had the variable race coded 1 = white, 2 = black, the new variable would be coded 0 = white, 1 = black. Or, if the variable religion was coded 1 = Catholic, 2 = Protestant, 3 = Jewish, 4 = Other, saying i.religion would cause Stata to create three 0/1 dummies. By default, the first category (in this case Catholic) is the reference category, but we can easily change that, e.g. ib2.religion would make Protestant the reference category, or ib(last).religion would make the last category, Other, the reference. Factor variables can also be used to include squared terms and interaction terms in models. For example, to add interaction terms, Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 15

16 . reg income i.black educ jobexp black#c.educ black#c.jobexp F( 5, 494) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = black educ jobexp black#c.educ black# c.jobexp _cons If you wanted to add a squared term to the model, you could do something like. reg income i.black educ c.educ#c.educ F( 3, 496) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = black educ c.educ# c.educ _cons The # (pronounced cross) operator is used for interactions and product terms. The use of # implies the i. prefix, i.e. unless you indicate otherwise Stata will assume that the variables on both sides of the # operator are categorical and will compute interaction terms accordingly. Hence, we use the c. notation to override the default and tell Stata that educ is a continuous variable. So, c.educ#c.educ tells Stata to include educ^2 in the model; we do not want or need to compute the variable separately. Similarly, i.race#c.educ produces the race * educ interaction term. Stata also offers a ## notation, called factorial cross. It can save some typing and/or provide an alternative parameterization of the results. Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 16

17 At first glance, the use of factor variables might seem like a minor convenience at best: They save you the trouble of computing dummy variables and interaction terms beforehand. Further, factor variables have some disadvantages, e.g. as of this writing they cannot be used with nestreg or stepwise. The advantages of factor variables become much more apparent when used in conjunction with post-estimation commands such as margins. Note: Not all commands support factor variables. In particular, user-written commands often will not support factor variables, sometimes because the commands were written before Stata 11 came out. Chapters 11 and 25 of the Stata Users Guide provide more information. Or, from within Stata, type help fvvarlist. Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 17

18 Appendix: Interaction Effects the Old Fashioned Way Older versions of Stata do not support factor variables; and even some programs you can use in Stata 12 (especially older user-written programs) do not support factor variables. Therefore you may need to compute the interaction terms yourself. Preliminary Steps. If the dummy variables and interaction terms are not already in our data set, we need to compute them: Compute a DUMMY variable for group membership. Code it 1 for all members of one of the groups, 0 for all members of the others. For example, you could do something like. gen dummy = group == 1 &!missing(group) Here, dummy will equal 1 if group equals 1. It will equal 0 if group has any other nonmissing value. dummy will be missing if group is missing. Another possible approach:. tab x, gen(dummy) If x had 4 categories, this would create dummy1, dummy2, dummy3 and dummy4. You could use the rename command to create clearer names, e.g.. rename dummy1 catholic. rename dummy2 protestant. rename dummy3 jewish. rename dummy4 other Compute interaction terms for the dummy variable and each of the IVs whose effects you think may differ across groups. In Stata, do something like. gen dummyx1 = dummy * x1. gen dummyx2 = dummy * x2 [NOTE: If you want, you can think of DUMMY as being an interaction term too. DUMMY = DUMMY*X0, where X0 = 1 for all cases.] Baseline Model: No differences across groups. As before, we can begin with a model that does not allow for any differences in model parameters across groups. We will also compute the interaction terms that we will need later (the dummy variable black is already in the data set).. use clear. gen blacked = black * educ. gen blackjob = black * jobexp Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 18

19 . reg income educ jobexp F( 2, 497) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = educ jobexp _cons est store baseline Model 1. Only the intercepts differ across groups. To allow the intercepts to differ by race, we add the dummy variable black to the model.. reg income educ jobexp black F( 3, 496) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = educ jobexp black _cons est store intonly To do Wald and F tests of the effect of black,. test black ( 1) black = 0 F( 1, 496) = Prob > F = ftest intonly baseline Assumption: baseline nested in intonly F( 1, 496) = prob > F = Here is how we could generate such a graph for our race data using Stata (note that I am only using jobexp and not educ; on average blacks earn \$10,300 less than whites with comparable levels of job experience): Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 19

20 . reg income jobexp black F( 2, 497) = Model Prob > F = Residual R-squared = Adj R-squared = Total Root MSE = jobexp black _cons predict whiteline if!black (option xb assumed; fitted values) (100 missing values generated). predict blackline if black (option xb assumed; fitted values) (400 missing values generated). label variable whiteline "Line for whites". label variable blackline "Line for blacks". twoway connected whiteline blackline jobexp jobexp Line for whites Line for blacks Interaction effects and group comparisons Page 20

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