Survey Methodology
Development of a small area estimation system at Statistics Canada

by Michel A. Hidiroglou, Jean-François Beaumont and Wesley YungNote 1

  • Release date: May 7, 2019


The demand for small area estimates by users of Statistics Canada’s data has been steadily increasing over recent years. In this paper, we provide a summary of procedures that have been incorporated into a SAS based production system for producing official small area estimates at Statistics Canada. This system includes: procedures based on unit or area level models; the incorporation of the sampling design; the ability to smooth the design variance for each small area if an area level model is used; the ability to ensure that the small area estimates add up to reliable higher level estimates; and the development of diagnostic tools to test the adequacy of the model. The production system has been used to produce small area estimates on an experimental basis for several surveys at Statistics Canada that include: the estimation of health characteristics, the estimation of under-coverage in the census, the estimation of manufacturing sales and the estimation of unemployment rates and employment counts for the Labour Force Survey. Some of the diagnostics implemented in the system are illustrated using Labour Force Survey data along with administrative auxiliary data.

Key Words:      Small area estimation; Area level model; Unit level model; EBLUP; Hierarchical Bayes methods; Official Statistics.

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How to cite

Hidiroglou, M.A., Beaumont, J.-F. and Yung, W. (2019). Development of a small area estimation system at Statistics Canada. Survey Methodology, Statistics Canada, Catalogue No. 12-001-X, Vol. 45, No. 1. Paper available at


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