Survey Methodology

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Release date: December 17, 2015


The journal Survey Methodology Volume 41, Number 2 (December 2015) contains the following 9 papers:

Regular Papers

Dealing with small sample sizes, rotation group bias and discontinuities in a rotating panel design

by Jan A. van den Brakel and Sabine Krieg

Rotating panels are widely applied by national statistical institutes, for example, to produce official statistics about the labour force. Estimation procedures are generally based on traditional design-based procedures known from classical sampling theory. A major drawback of this class of estimators is that small sample sizes result in large standard errors and that they are not robust for measurement bias. Two examples showing the effects of measurement bias are rotation group bias in rotating panels, and systematic differences in the outcome of a survey due to a major redesign of the underlying process. In this paper we apply a multivariate structural time series model to the Dutch Labour Force Survey to produce model-based figures about the monthly labour force. The model reduces the standard errors of the estimates by taking advantage of sample information collected in previous periods, accounts for rotation group bias and autocorrelation induced by the rotating panel, and models discontinuities due to a survey redesign. Additionally, we discuss the use of correlated auxiliary series in the model to further improve the accuracy of the model estimates. The method is applied by Statistics Netherlands to produce accurate official monthly statistics about the labour force that are consistent over time, despite a redesign of the survey process.

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Domain sample allocation within primary sampling units in designing domain-level equal probability selection methods

by Avinash C. Singh and Rachel M. Harter

Self-weighting estimation through equal probability selection methods (epsem) is desirable for variance efficiency. Traditionally, the epsem property for (one phase) two stage designs for estimating population-level parameters is realized by using each primary sampling unit (PSU) population count as the measure of size for PSU selection along with equal sample size allocation per PSU under simple random sampling (SRS) of elementary units. However, when self-weighting estimates are desired for parameters corresponding to multiple domains under a pre-specified sample allocation to domains, Folsom, Potter and Williams (1987) showed that a composite measure of size can be used to select PSUs to obtain epsem designs when besides domain-level PSU counts (i.e., distribution of domain population over PSUs), frame-level domain identifiers for elementary units are also assumed to be available. The term depsem-A will be used to denote such (one phase) two stage designs to obtain domain-level epsem estimation. Folsom et al. also considered two phase two stage designs when domain-level PSU counts are unknown, but whole PSU counts are known. For these designs (to be termed depsem-B) with PSUs selected proportional to the usual size measure (i.e., the total PSU count) at the first stage, all elementary units within each selected PSU are first screened for classification into domains in the first phase of data collection before SRS selection at the second stage. Domain-stratified samples are then selected within PSUs with suitably chosen domain sampling rates such that the desired domain sample sizes are achieved and the resulting design is self-weighting. In this paper, we first present a simple justification of composite measures of size for the depsem-A design and of the domain sampling rates for the depsem-B design. Then, for depsem-A and -B designs, we propose generalizations, first to cases where frame-level domain identifiers for elementary units are not available and domain-level PSU counts are only approximately known from alternative sources, and second to cases where PSU size measures are pre-specified based on other practical and desirable considerations of over- and under-sampling of certain domains. We also present a further generalization in the presence of subsampling of elementary units and nonresponse within selected PSUs at the first phase before selecting phase two elementary units from domains within each selected PSU. This final generalization of depsem-B is illustrated for an area sample of housing units.

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Model-assisted optimal allocation for planned domains using composite estimation

by Wilford B. Molefe and Robert Graham Clark

This paper develops allocation methods for stratified sample surveys where composite small area estimators are a priority, and areas are used as strata. Longford (2006) proposed an objective criterion for this situation, based on a weighted combination of the mean squared errors of small area means and a grand mean. Here, we redefine this approach within a model-assisted framework, allowing regressor variables and a more natural interpretation of results using an intra-class correlation parameter. We also consider several uses of power allocation, and allow the placing of other constraints such as maximum relative root mean squared errors for stratum estimators. We find that a simple power allocation can perform very nearly as well as the optimal design even when the objective is to minimize Longford’s (2006) criterion.

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A design effect measure for calibration weighting in single-stage samples

by Kimberly A. Henry and Richard Valliant

We propose a model-assisted extension of weighting design-effect measures. We develop a summary-level statistic for different variables of interest, in single-stage sampling and under calibration weight adjustments. Our proposed design effect measure captures the joint effects of a non-epsem sampling design, unequal weights produced using calibration adjustments, and the strength of the association between an analysis variable and the auxiliaries used in calibration. We compare our proposed measure to existing design effect measures in simulations using variables like those collected in establishment surveys and telephone surveys of households.

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Optimum allocation for a dual-frame telephone survey

by Kirk M. Wolter, Xian Tao, Robert Montgomery and Philip J. Smith

Careful design of a dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) telephone survey requires selecting from among many options that have varying impacts on cost, precision, and coverage in order to obtain the best possible implementation of the study goals. One such consideration is whether to screen cell-phone households in order to interview cell-phone only (CPO) households and exclude dual-user household, or to take all interviews obtained via the cell-phone sample. We present a framework in which to consider the tradeoffs between these two options and a method to select the optimal design. We derive and discuss the optimum allocation of sample size between the two sampling frames and explore the choice of optimum p, the mixing parameter for the dual-user domain. We illustrate our methods using the National Immunization Survey, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Combining link-tracing sampling and cluster sampling to estimate the size of a hidden population in presence of heterogeneous link-probabilities

by Martin H. Félix-Medina, Pedro E. Monjardin and Aida N. Aceves-Castro

Félix-Medina and Thompson (2004) proposed a variant of link-tracing sampling to sample hidden and/or hard-to-detect human populations such as drug users and sex workers. In their variant, an initial sample of venues is selected and the people found in the sampled venues are asked to name other members of the population to be included in the sample. Those authors derived maximum likelihood estimators of the population size under the assumption that the probability that a person is named by another in a sampled venue (link-probability) does not depend on the named person (homogeneity assumption). In this work we extend their research to the case of heterogeneous link-probabilities and derive unconditional and conditional maximum likelihood estimators of the population size. We also propose profile likelihood and bootstrap confidence intervals for the size of the population. The results of simulations studies carried out by us show that in presence of heterogeneous link-probabilities the proposed estimators perform reasonably well provided that relatively large sampling fractions, say larger than 0.5, be used, whereas the estimators derived under the homogeneity assumption perform badly. The outcomes also show that the proposed confidence intervals are not very robust to deviations from the assumed models.

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Model-based small area estimation under informative sampling

by François Verret, J.N.K. Rao and Michael A. Hidiroglou

Unit level population models are often used in model-based small area estimation of totals and means, but the models may not hold for the sample if the sampling design is informative for the model. As a result, standard methods, assuming that the model holds for the sample, can lead to biased estimators. We study alternative methods that use a suitable function of the unit selection probability as an additional auxiliary variable in the sample model. We report the results of a simulation study on the bias and mean squared error (MSE) of the proposed estimators of small area means and on the relative bias of the associated MSE estimators, using informative sampling schemes to generate the samples. Alternative methods, based on modeling the conditional expectation of the design weight as a function of the model covariates and the response, are also included in the simulation study.

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Adaptive survey designs to minimize survey mode effects – a case study on the Dutch Labor Force Survey

by Melania Calinescu and Barry Schouten

Assessing the impact of mode effects on survey estimates has become a crucial research objective due to the increasing use of mixed-mode designs. Despite the advantages of a mixed-mode design, such as lower costs and increased coverage, there is sufficient evidence that mode effects may be large relative to the precision of a survey. They may lead to incomparable statistics in time or over population subgroups and they may increase bias. Adaptive survey designs offer a flexible mathematical framework to obtain an optimal balance between survey quality and costs. In this paper, we employ adaptive designs in order to minimize mode effects. We illustrate our optimization model by means of a case-study on the Dutch Labor Force Survey. We focus on item-dependent mode effects and we evaluate the impact on survey quality by comparison to a gold standard.

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Integer programming formulations applied to optimal allocation in stratified sampling

by José André de Moura Brito, Pedro Luis do Nascimento Silva, Gustavo Silva Semaan and Nelson Maculan

The problem of optimal allocation of samples in surveys using a stratified sampling plan was first discussed by Neyman in 1934. Since then, many researchers have studied the problem of the sample allocation in multivariate surveys and several methods have been proposed. Basically, these methods are divided into two classes: The first class comprises methods that seek an allocation which minimizes survey costs while keeping the coefficients of variation of estimators of totals below specified thresholds for all survey variables of interest. The second aims to minimize a weighted average of the relative variances of the estimators of totals given a maximum overall sample size or a maximum cost. This paper proposes a new optimization approach for the sample allocation problem in multivariate surveys. This approach is based on a binary integer programming formulation. Several numerical experiments showed that the proposed approach provides efficient solutions to this problem, which improve upon a ‘textbook algorithm’ and can be more efficient than the algorithm by Bethel (1985, 1989).

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