Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Error Term


The error term in finance is a variable in a statistical or mathematical model, which is created when the model does not fully represent the actual relationship between the independent and dependent variables. The error term usually represents the difference between the observed value and the predicted value. It accounts for the effects of variables not explicitly included in the model and is commonly used in regression analysis.


The phonetics of the keyword “Error Term” is: /ˈɛrər tɜrm/

Key Takeaways

  1. Error Term is Unobservable: The error term in regression analysis is a statistical term that’s used to account for the variability in a dependent variable that’s not explained by the independent variables. This term is unobservable because it’s impossible to know all the variables that may affect the outcome of an experiment or study.
  2. Error Terms Follow Normal Distribution: Most regression models presume that these error terms follow a normal distribution. The error terms should have a mean of zero, and constant variance. The normal distribution assumption is important because it means that the probability of observing extreme values is very low, providing a clear representation of ‘average’ error.
  3. Error Term and Independent Variables are Independent: Another significant assumption is that the error term and the independent variables should be independent. This means that the error term should not be a factor that influences the independent variable or vice versa. If this assumption is violated, it can lead to biased estimates during regression analysis.


In the field of business and finance, the term “Error Term” plays a crucial role in statistical or regression analyses. It signifies the difference between the observed and predicted values in a model, representing the unpredictable or unexplained variance that is not accounted for by the model. It hence encapsulates the randomness that can’t be captured by the predictors, serving as a key measure of the accuracy or reliability of predictions. Proper study and incorporation of the error term can significantly refine the predictability and efficiency of a model, making it an indispensable parameter in various financial and economic models, forecasts, valuations, and decisions.


In financial modeling and statistical analyses, the Error Term serves a crucial role. The primary purpose of the error term is to account for the variability in the dependent variable that is not explained by the independent variables. In other words, it encapsulates the uncertainty and inconsistencies that are inherent in any real-world data. This can include anything that can influence the prediction, such as individual behavior or external factors, which are not covered by the model.Secondly, an Error Term is the foundation for numerous statistical properties critical for analytics, regression analysis, and hypothesis testing. For instance, in regression analysis, several assumptions about the properties of the error term (like being normally distributed with a mean of zero) are made to allow for the successful estimation of relationships between variables. If the construction of an error term fails these assumptions, it could lead to biased estimates, ultimately resulting in the model failing to accurately describe the relationship it was designed to. Therefore, recognizing and efficiently managing the error term’s existence is integral to maintaining the validity and reliability of a financial or econometric model.


The Error Term in business or finance refers to deviations in the observed values from the expected ones due to some unpredictable factors. Error terms are crucial in various statistical models such as regression models. They represent external factors that can affect the dependent variable but are not included in the model. Here are three real-world examples:1. Sales Projections: Suppose you are an analyst trying to predict the next year’s sales for a retail store. The regression model may include independent variables like marketing budget, average income of the area, and size of the store. However, there could be unaccounted factors such as change in customer preferences, influence of competitors, a sudden market downturn, or a global pandemic. The difference between the predicted sales from your model and the actual sales is the error term.2. Stock Market Predictions: When utilizing a model to predict future stock prices, factors like the company’s earnings, overall market trends, and economic indicators are often included. However, there are always unpredictable events, such as sudden changes in management, natural disasters, or political instability, that can significantly impact the stock’s price. These unpredictable deviations represented by the error term.3. Housing Prices: In a model predicting house prices, variables like location, size, age, and nearby amenities might be considered. Still, unpredictable factors like market fluctuations, interest rates, changes in neighborhood popularity, or even a specific buyer’s personal preference can deviate the actual prices from the predicted prices. Again, this deviation is the error term.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Error Term?

An Error Term is a variable in a statistical or mathematical model that is used to express the difference between observed and predicted data points. It accounts for the effect of all factors not explained by the variables in the model.

What is the significance of an Error Term in financial modeling?

An Error Term is significant in financial modeling as it provides a measure of the accuracy of predictions made by the statistical model. A smaller error term indicates a higher degree of accuracy, while a larger error term implies a lower degree of predictive accuracy.

Do Error Terms always have a mean of zero?

Yes, in most statistical models it is assumed that the Error Terms have a mean of zero. This assumption means that the model’s predictions, averaged over many observations, are accurate. It does not imply that each individual prediction is correct.

Are all Error Terms independent of each other?

Yes, in most statistical models it is assumed that each Error Term is independent of other Error Terms. This means the error in one prediction does not affect the error in any other prediction.

What is the difference between the Error Term and the Residual?

The Error Term is a theoretical concept that refers to the deviation of the true regression line (the line we would get if we knew the population parameters exactly) from the observed data points. The residual, on the other hand, refers to the deviation of the estimated regression line (the line we get from a sample of data) from the observed data points.

Can the Error Term affect the reliability of a financial model?

Yes, a model with consistently high Error Terms might imply that essential variables have been omitted from the model or that the model does not adequately represent the relationships between the variables. It is important to minimize the Error Term for a reliable and valid financial model.

How is the Error Term represented in a regression equation?

In a typical regression equation, Y = a + bX + e, e represents the Error Term. Here Y is the dependent variable, X is the independent variable, a and b are coefficients, and e is the error term.

Related Finance Terms

  • Residuals
  • Ordinary Least Squares (OLS)
  • Multiple Regression
  • Explanatory Variable
  • Statistical Noise

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More