The purpose of this study was to examine in which way adding more indicators or a covariate influences the performance of latent class analysis (LCA). We varied the sample size (100 ≤ N ≤ 2000), number, and quality of binary indicators (between 4 and 12 indicators with conditional response probabilities of [0.3, 0.7], [0.2, 0.8], or [0.1, 0.9]), and the strength of covariate effects (zero, small, medium, large) in a Monte Carlo simulation study of 2- and 3-class models. The results suggested that in general, a larger sample size, more indicators, a higher quality of indicators, and a larger covariate effect lead to more converged and proper replications, as well as fewer boundary parameter estimates and less parameter bias. Furthermore, interactions among these study factors demonstrated how using more or higher quality indicators, as well as larger covariate effect size, could sometimes compensate for small sample size. Including a covariate appeared to be generally beneficial, although the covariate parameters themselves showed relatively large bias. Our results provide useful information for practitioners designing an LCA study in terms of highlighting the factors that lead to better or worse performance of LCA.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christian-geiser/30/