This paper revisits the issue of conditional volatility in real GDP growth rates for Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Previous studies find high persistence in the volatility. This paper shows that this finding largely reflects a nonstationary variance. Output growth in the four countries became noticeably less volatile over the past few decades. In this paper, we employ the modified ICSS algorithm to detect structural change in the unconditional variance of output growth. One structural break exists in each of the four countries. We then use generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity (GARCH) specifications modeling output growth and its volatility with and without the break in volatility. The evidence shows that the time-varying variance falls sharply in Canada, Japan, and the U.K. and disappears in the U.S., excess kurtosis vanishes in Canada, Japan, and the U.S. and drops substantially in the U.K., once we incorporate the break in the variance equation of output for the four countries. That is, the integrated GARCH (IGARCH) effect proves spurious and the GARCH model demonstrates misspecification, if researchers neglect a nonstationary unconditional variance.
Fang, WenShwo; Miller, Stephen M.; and Lee, ChunShen, "Cross-Country Evidence on Output Growth Volatility: Nonstationary Variance and GARCH Models" (2007). Economics Working Papers. 200720.