Survey Methodology
How to decompose the non-response variance: A total survey error approach

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by Keven Bosa, Serge Godbout, Fraser Mills and Frédéric PicardNote 1

  • Release date: December 20, 2018


When a linear imputation method is used to correct non-response based on certain assumptions, total variance can be assigned to non-responding units. Linear imputation is not as limited as it seems, given that the most common methods – ratio, donor, mean and auxiliary value imputation – are all linear imputation methods. We will discuss the inference framework and the unit-level decomposition of variance due to non-response. Simulation results will also be presented. This decomposition can be used to prioritize non-response follow-up or manual corrections, or simply to guide data analysis.

Key Words:      Total variance; Adaptive design; Imputation.

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How to cite

Bosa, K., Godbout, S., Mills, F. and Picard, F. (2018). How to decompose the non-response variance: A total survey error approach. Survey Methodology, Statistics Canada, Catalogue No. 12-001-X, Vol. 44, No. 2. Paper available at


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