How to Perform a Breusch-Godfrey Test in Python

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The Breusch-Godfrey (BG) test is a crucial tool in econometrics and statistics, used to test for autocorrelation in the residuals of a regression model. Autocorrelation refers to the correlation of a time series with its own past and future values. The presence of autocorrelation in the residuals of a regression model violates the assumption of independent errors and may result in inefficient parameter estimates and incorrect inference.

In this detailed article, we’ll guide you through understanding the Breusch-Godfrey test, its application, and how to perform it in Python.

Understanding the Breusch-Godfrey Test

The Breusch-Godfrey test, proposed by Trevor Breusch and Leslie Godfrey, is used to test the null hypothesis that there is no autocorrelation up to a certain chosen lag against the alternative hypothesis that there is.

The test works in two steps:

  1. Estimate your regression model and obtain the residuals.
  2. Perform an auxiliary regression of the residuals on the original predictors and the lagged residuals.

The null and alternative hypotheses for the Breusch-Godfrey test are:

  • Null Hypothesis (H0): There is no autocorrelation in the residuals.
  • Alternative Hypothesis (H1): There is autocorrelation in the residuals.

Loading and Preparing the Data

For this tutorial, we’ll use the AirPassengers dataset, a well-known time-series dataset that is available in the statsmodels library. This dataset represents the total number of airline passengers over time.

import statsmodels.api as sm

# Load the dataset
data = sm.datasets.get_rdataset('AirPassengers').data


Fitting a Regression Model

Now, we’ll fit a simple Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression model to our data, with the number of passengers as the dependent variable and a time trend as the independent variable.

# Define the dependent variable
y = data['value']

# Define the independent variable (a time trend)
X = sm.add_constant(range(1, len(data) + 1))

# Fit the OLS model
model = sm.OLS(y, X).fit()

Performing the Breusch-Godfrey Test

Once we have our regression model, we can conduct the Breusch-Godfrey test using the acorr_breusch_godfrey function from the statsmodels library.

from statsmodels.stats.diagnostic import acorr_breusch_godfrey

# Perform the Breusch-Godfrey test
bg_test = acorr_breusch_godfrey(model, nlags=1)

print(f"Lagrange multiplier statistic: {bg_test[0]}")
print(f"p-value: {bg_test[1]}")
print(f"f-value: {bg_test[2]}")
print(f"f p-value: {bg_test[3]}")

The acorr_breusch_godfrey function returns four values: the Lagrange multiplier test statistic, the p-value for the LM test, the F-statistic for the hypothesis test, and the p-value for the F-test. If the p-values are less than your chosen significance level (e.g., 0.05), you would reject the null hypothesis and conclude that there is evidence of autocorrelation.

Visualizing Autocorrelation

The autocorrelation function (ACF) plot, which displays the autocorrelation of the residuals at different lags, is another helpful tool for checking for autocorrelation.

from import plot_acf
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Plot the ACF of the residuals

In the ACF plot, a significant spike at a lag indicates a correlation with that lag. If there is no autocorrelation, we would expect all spikes to fall within the blue band.

Handling Autocorrelation

If your data exhibit evidence of autocorrelation, you can employ several strategies to handle it:

  1. Model the autocorrelation: If the autocorrelation pattern results from a time trend or seasonal effects, you can include these factors in your model.
  2. Differencing the series: This strategy involves subtracting the previous observation from the current observation. Differencing can help stabilize the mean of a time series by removing changes in the level of a time series, hence eliminating (or reducing) trend and seasonality.
  3. Use a model that accounts for autocorrelation: Models that account for autocorrelation include autoregressive (AR), moving average (MA), autoregressive moving average (ARMA), and autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models.


This article provided an in-depth discussion about the Breusch-Godfrey test, its importance, and how to perform it in Python. The BG test is a crucial tool for verifying the assumption of no autocorrelation in the residuals of a regression model. Understanding and addressing autocorrelation is paramount since it can lead to misleading regression results. By performing this test and accurately interpreting its results, you can ensure that your regression models are more reliable, and your conclusions are valid.

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