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Machine Learning or Econometrics for Credit Scoring: Let's Get the Best of Both Worlds

Elena Dumitrescu (), Sullivan Hué, Christophe Hurlin () and Sessi Tokpavi ()
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Sessi Tokpavi: LEO - Laboratoire d'économie d'Orleans - UO - Université d'Orléans - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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Abstract: In the context of credit scoring, ensemble methods based on decision trees, such as the random forest method, provide better classification performance than standard logistic regression models. However, logistic regression remains the benchmark in the credit risk industry mainly because the lack of interpretability of ensemble methods is incompatible with the requirements of financial regulators. In this paper, we pro- pose to obtain the best of both worlds by introducing a high-performance and interpretable credit scoring method called penalised logistic tree regression (PLTR), which uses information from decision trees to improve the performance of logistic regression. Formally, rules extracted from various short-depth decision trees built with pairs of predictive variables are used as predictors in a penalised logistic regression model. PLTR allows us to capture non-linear effects that can arise in credit scoring data while preserving the intrinsic interpretability of the logistic regression model. Monte Carlo simulations and empirical applications using four real credit default datasets show that PLTR predicts credit risk significantly more accurately than logistic regression and compares competitively to the random forest method. JEL Classification: G10 C25, C53

Keywords: Credit scoring; Machine Learning; Risk management; Interpretability; Econometrics; Machine learning; Econo- metrics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-01-15
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-big, nep-cmp, nep-ecm and nep-rmg
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Working Paper: Machine Learning or Econometrics for Credit Scoring: Let’s Get the Best of Both Worlds (2020) Downloads
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