How to Perform a Granger Causality Test in Python

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A key aspect of quantitative data analysis in fields such as econometrics and finance involves testing the relationship between two or more time series. This interaction is important for prediction, control, and understanding of various systems. Granger causality test is a popular statistical hypothesis test for determining whether one time series is useful in forecasting another.

This tutorial aims to demonstrate how you can perform a Granger Causality test using Python.


Before we dive into the practical part of the tutorial, it’s important to understand what the Granger causality test is and why it’s useful.

Named after Nobel Laureate Clive Granger, the Granger causality test aims to investigate causality between two variables in a time series. The basic idea is that if a signal X “Granger-causes” (or “G-causes”) a signal Y, then past values of X should contain information that helps predict Y above and beyond the information contained in past values of Y alone.

To give a simple example, if changes in variable X occur before changes in variable Y, and these changes can be used to predict the future values of Y, then X is said to Granger-cause Y.

Getting Started

We’ll use Python’s statsmodels library, which includes a built-in function for performing the Granger causality test. If you don’t have it installed, you can install it via pip:

pip install statsmodels

Next, let’s import the necessary libraries:

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import statsmodels.api as sm
from statsmodels.tsa.stattools import grangercausalitytests

Load and Preprocess Data

Next, you need to load your data. In this tutorial, we’ll use the pandas library to load the data from a CSV file. You could also load your data from a different source, such as an SQL database or an Excel file, depending on your needs.

# Load data
df = pd.read_csv('your_data.csv')

# Convert the index to datetime format
df.index = pd.to_datetime(df.index)

# Drop any missing values
df = df.dropna()

In this code, we assume that the data is in a CSV file and the index contains date information. Depending on your dataset, you might need to preprocess it differently.

Inspecting the Data

Before proceeding, it is always a good idea to inspect your data:

# Print the first 5 rows of the dataframe

Make sure that your data is properly loaded and preprocessed, and that the time series you are interested in are present in the DataFrame.

Perform the Granger Causality Test

Now that the data is ready, we can perform the Granger causality test. Here’s how you can do it using the grangercausalitytests function from the statsmodels library:

# Perform the Granger causality test
granger_test = grangercausalitytests(df[['X', 'Y']], maxlag=2)

In this code, df[['X', 'Y']] represents the two time series we are interested in, and maxlag=2 is the maximum number of lags that we should consider in the test. Depending on your dataset and the specific hypotheses you’re testing, you might want to use different values.

The grangercausalitytests function returns a dictionary. Each key corresponds to a lag and each value is another dictionary that contains the test statistic, p-values, degrees of freedom, and the description of the test for that lag.

Interpret the Results

Interpreting the results of a Granger causality test requires some understanding of hypothesis testing and p-values.

In essence, a p-value is a measure of the probability that an observed difference could have occurred just by random chance. A smaller p-value is an indication that there is a stronger evidence in favor of the alternative hypothesis.

In the context of the Granger causality test, the null hypothesis is that the coefficients of past values in the regression equation are zero (i.e., the past values of X do not cause Y) and the alternative hypothesis is that the coefficients are not zero (i.e., X does cause Y).

Here’s how you can interpret the results:

# Iterate over the results
for lag, result in granger_test.items():
    p_values = [round(value[1],4) for key, value in result[0].items()]
    print(f"Lag: {lag} \nF-Statistic: {result[0]['ssr_ftest'][0]} \nP-Value: {p_values[0]}\n")

In this code, we iterate over the results dictionary, extract the p-value for each lag, and print it along with the corresponding lag and F-statistic.

Remember that if the p-value is less than your significance level (typically 0.05), you should reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the time series in column X Granger causes the time series in column Y.


The Granger causality test is a powerful tool for time series analysis, but it also has its limitations. For example, it is based on linear regression, and hence might not capture nonlinear relationships between time series. It also assumes that the relationship is static and does not change over time, which might not always be the case.

Nevertheless, when used judiciously, it can yield valuable insights about the dynamics of different time series and their relationships. Python, with its powerful statistical libraries, provides a versatile platform for conducting such tests and analyzing their results.

This tutorial provided an overview of how to perform a Granger causality test in Python. We started by introducing the concept of Granger causality and explaining why it is important. We then showed how to load and preprocess data using pandas, how to perform the test using the statsmodels library, and how to interpret the results. We hope this tutorial will serve as a useful guide for your future data analysis tasks.

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