Survey Methodology

Release date: June 22, 2016


The journal Survey Methodology Volume 42, Number 1 (June 2016) contains the following 8 papers, one short note and one addendum:

Regular Papers

A generalized Fellegi-Holt paradigm for automatic error localization

by Sander Scholtus

The aim of automatic editing is to use a computer to detect and amend erroneous values in a data set, without human intervention. Most automatic editing methods that are currently used in official statistics are based on the seminal work of Fellegi and Holt (1976). Applications of this methodology in practice have shown systematic differences between data that are edited manually and automatically, because human editors may perform complex edit operations. In this paper, a generalization of the Fellegi-Holt paradigm is proposed that can incorporate a large class of edit operations in a natural way. In addition, an algorithm is outlined that solves the resulting generalized error localization problem. It is hoped that this generalization may be used to increase the suitability of automatic editing in practice, and hence to improve the efficiency of data editing processes. Some first results on synthetic data are promising in this respect.

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Statistical matching using fractional imputation

by Jae Kwang Kim, Emily Berg and Taesung Park

Statistical matching is a technique for integrating two or more data sets when information available for matching records for individual participants across data sets is incomplete. Statistical matching can be viewed as a missing data problem where a researcher wants to perform a joint analysis of variables that are never jointly observed. A conditional independence assumption is often used to create imputed data for statistical matching. We consider a general approach to statistical matching using parametric fractional imputation of Kim (2011) to create imputed data under the assumption that the specified model is fully identified. The proposed method does not have a convergent expectation-maximisation (EM) sequence if the model is not identified. We also present variance estimators appropriate for the imputation procedure. We explain how the method applies directly to the analysis of data from split questionnaire designs and measurement error models.

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Comparison of unit level and area level small area estimators

by Michael A. Hidiroglou and Yong You

In this paper, we compare the EBLUP and pseudo-EBLUP estimators for small area estimation under the nested error regression model and three area level model-based estimators using the Fay-Herriot model. We conduct a design-based simulation study to compare the model-based estimators for unit level and area level models under informative and non-informative sampling. In particular, we are interested in the confidence interval coverage rate of the unit level and area level estimators. We also compare the estimators if the model has been misspecified. Our simulation results show that estimators based on the unit level model perform better than those based on the area level. The pseudo-EBLUP estimator is the best among unit level and area level estimators.

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Comparison of some positive variance estimators for the Fay-Herriot small area model

by Susana Rubin-Bleuer and Yong You

The restricted maximum likelihood (REML) method is generally used to estimate the variance of the random area effect under the Fay-Herriot model (Fay and Herriot 1979) to obtain the empirical best linear unbiased (EBLUP) estimator of a small area mean. When the REML estimate is zero, the weight of the direct sample estimator is zero and the EBLUP becomes a synthetic estimator. This is not often desirable. As a solution to this problem, Li and Lahiri (2011) and Yoshimori and Lahiri (2014) developed adjusted maximum likelihood (ADM) consistent variance estimators which always yield positive variance estimates. Some of the ADM estimators always yield positive estimates but they have a large bias and this affects the estimation of the mean squared error (MSE) of the EBLUP. We propose to use a MIX variance estimator, defined as a combination of the REML and ADM methods. We show that it is unbiased up to the second order and it always yields a positive variance estimate. Furthermore, we propose an MSE estimator under the MIX method and show via a model-based simulation that in many situations, it performs better than other ‘Taylor linearization’ MSE estimators proposed recently.

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A comparison between nonparametric estimators for finite population distribution functions

by Leo Pasquazzi and Lucio de Capitani

In this work we compare nonparametric estimators for finite population distribution functions based on two types of fitted values: the fitted values from the well-known Kuo estimator and a modified version of them, which incorporates a nonparametric estimate for the mean regression function. For each type of fitted values we consider the corresponding model-based estimator and, after incorporating design weights, the corresponding generalized difference estimator. We show under fairly general conditions that the leading term in the model mean square error is not affected by the modification of the fitted values, even though it slows down the convergence rate for the model bias. Second order terms of the model mean square errors are difficult to obtain and will not be derived in the present paper. It remains thus an open question whether the modified fitted values bring about some benefit from the model-based perspective. We discuss also design-based properties of the estimators and propose a variance estimator for the generalized difference estimator based on the modified fitted values. Finally, we perform a simulation study. The simulation results suggest that the modified fitted values lead to a considerable reduction of the design mean square error if the sample size is small.

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A note on regression estimation with unknown population size

by Michael A. Hidiroglou, Jae Kwang Kim and Christian Olivier Nambeu

The regression estimator is extensively used in practice because it can improve the reliability of the estimated parameters of interest such as means or totals. It uses control totals of variables known at the population level that are included in the regression set up. In this paper, we investigate the properties of the regression estimator that uses control totals estimated from the sample, as well as those known at the population level. This estimator is compared to the regression estimators that strictly use the known totals both theoretically and via a simulation study.

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Register-based sampling for household panels

by Jan A. van den Brakel

In the Netherlands, statistical information about income and wealth is based on two large scale household panels that are completely derived from administrative data. A problem with using households as sampling units in the sample design of panels is the instability of these units over time. Changes in the household composition affect the inclusion probabilities required for design-based and model-assisted inference procedures. Such problems are circumvented in the two aforementioned household panels by sampling persons, who are followed over time. At each period the household members of these sampled persons are included in the sample. This is equivalent to sampling with probabilities proportional to household size where households can be selected more than once but with a maximum equal to the number of household members. In this paper properties of this sample design are described and contrasted with the Generalized Weight Share method for indirect sampling (Lavallée 1995, 2007). Methods are illustrated with an application to the Dutch Regional Income Survey.

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Nonresponse adjustments with misspecified models in stratified designs

by Ismael Flores Cervantes and J. Michael Brick

Adjusting the base weights using weighting classes is a standard approach for dealing with unit nonresponse. A common approach is to create nonresponse adjustments that are weighted by the inverse of the assumed response propensity of respondents within weighting classes under a quasi-randomization approach. Little and Vartivarian (2003) questioned the value of weighting the adjustment factor. In practice the models assumed are misspecified, so it is critical to understand the impact of weighting might have in this case. This paper describes the effects on nonresponse adjusted estimates of means and totals for population and domains computed using the weighted and unweighted inverse of the response propensities in stratified simple random sample designs. The performance of these estimators under different conditions such as different sample allocation, response mechanism, and population structure is evaluated. The findings show that for the scenarios considered the weighted adjustment has substantial advantages for estimating totals and using an unweighted adjustment may lead to serious biases except in very limited cases. Furthermore, unlike the unweighted estimates, the weighted estimates are not sensitive to how the sample is allocated.

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Short note

A short note on quantile and expectile estimation in unequal probability samples

by Linda Schulze Waltrup and Göran Kauermann

The estimation of quantiles is an important topic not only in the regression framework, but also in sampling theory. A natural alternative or addition to quantiles are expectiles. Expectiles as a generalization of the mean have become popular during the last years as they not only give a more detailed picture of the data than the ordinary mean, but also can serve as a basis to calculate quantiles by using their close relationship. We show, how to estimate expectiles under sampling with unequal probabilities and how expectiles can be used to estimate the distribution function. The resulting fitted distribution function estimator can be inverted leading to quantile estimates. We run a simulation study to investigate and compare the efficiency of the expectile based estimator.

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Model-assisted optimal allocation for planned domains using composite estimation

by Wilford B. Molefe and Robert Graham Clark
Volume 41, number 2, (December 2015), 377-387

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