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Survey Methodology

June 2010

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The journal Survey Methodology Volume 36, Number 1 (June 2010) contains the following 10 papers:

Fence method for nonparametric small area estimation

Jiming Jiang, Thuan Nguyen and J. Sunil Rao


This paper considers the problem of selecting nonparametric models for small area estimation, which recently have received much attention. We develop a procedure based on the idea of fence method (Jiang, Rao, Gu and Nguyen 2008) for selecting the mean function for the small areas from a class of approximating splines. Simulation results show impressive performance of the new procedure even when the number of small areas is fairly small. The method is applied to a hospital graft failure dataset for selecting a nonparametric Fay-Herriot type model.

Gross flow estimation in dual frame surveys

Yan Lu and Sharon Lohr


Gross flows are often used to study transitions in employment status or other categorical variables among individuals in a population. Dual frame longitudinal surveys, in which independent samples are selected from two frames to decrease survey costs or improve coverage, can present challenges for efficient and consistent estimation of gross flows because of complex designs and missing data in either or both samples. We propose estimators of gross flows in dual frame surveys and examine their asymptotic properties. We then estimate transitions in employment status using data from the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

Bayesian penalized spline model-based inference for finite population proportion in unequal probability sampling

Qixuan Chen, Michael R. Elliott and Roderick J.A. Little


We propose a Bayesian Penalized Spline Predictive (BPSP) estimator for a finite population proportion in an unequal probability sampling setting. This new method allows the probabilities of inclusion to be directly incorporated into the estimation of a population proportion, using a probit regression of the binary outcome on the penalized spline of the inclusion probabilities. The posterior predictive distribution of the population proportion is obtained using Gibbs sampling. The advantages of the BPSP estimator over the Hájek (HK), Generalized Regression (GR), and parametric model-based prediction estimators are demonstrated by simulation studies and a real example in tax auditing. Simulation studies show that the BPSP estimator is more efficient, and its 95% credible interval provides better confidence coverage with shorter average width than the HK and GR estimators, especially when the population proportion is close to zero or one or when the sample is small. Compared to linear model-based predictive estimators, the BPSP estimators are robust to model misspecification and influential observations in the sample.

The effect of nonresponse adjustments on variance estimation

David Haziza, Katherine Jenny Thompson and Wesley Yung


Many surveys employ weight adjustment procedures to reduce nonresponse bias. These adjustments make use of available auxiliary data. This paper addresses the issue of jackknife variance estimation for estimators that have been adjusted for nonresponse. Using the reverse approach for variance estimation proposed by Fay (1991) and Shao and Steel (1999), we study the effect of not re-calculating the nonresponse weight adjustment within each jackknife replicate. We show that the resulting ‘shortcut’ jackknife variance estimator tends to overestimate the true variance of point estimators in the case of several weight adjustment procedures used in practice. These theoretical results are confirmed through a simulation study where we compare the shortcut jackknife variance estimator with the full jackknife variance estimator obtained by re-calculating the nonresponse weight adjustment within each jackknife replicate.

A comparison of variance estimators for poststratification to estimated control totals

Jill A. Dever and Richard Valliant


Calibration techniques, such as poststratification, use auxiliary information to improve the efficiency of survey estimates. The control totals, to which sample weights are poststratified (or calibrated), are assumed to be population values. Often, however, the controls are estimated from other surveys. Many researchers apply traditional poststratification variance estimators to situations where the control totals are estimated, thus assuming that any additional sampling variance associated with these controls is negligible. The goal of the research presented here is to evaluate variance estimators for stratified, multi-stage designs under estimated-control (EC) poststratification using design-unbiased controls. We compare the theoretical and empirical properties of linearization and jackknife variance estimators for a poststratified estimator of a population total. Illustrations are given of the effects on variances from different levels of precision in the estimated controls. Our research suggests (i) traditional variance estimators can seriously underestimate the theoretical variance, and (ii) two EC poststratification variance estimators can mitigate the negative bias.

Some contributions to jackknifing two-phase sampling estimators

Patrick J. Farrell and Sarjinder Singh


In this paper, the problem of estimating the variance of various estimators of the population mean in two-phase sampling has been considered by jackknifing the two-phase calibrated weights of Hidiroglou and Särndal (1995, 1998). Several estimators of population mean available in the literature are shown to be the special cases of the technique developed here, including those suggested by Rao and Sitter (1995) and Sitter (1997). By following Raj (1965) and Srivenkataramana and Tracy (1989), some new estimators of the population mean are introduced and their variances are estimated through the proposed jackknife procedure. The variance of the chain ratio and regression type estimators due to Chand (1975) are also estimated using the jackknife. A simulation study is conducted to assess the efficiency of the proposed jackknife estimators relative to the usual estimators of variance.

A comparison of sample set restriction procedures

Jason C. Legg and Cindy L. Yu


For many designs, there is a nonzero probability of selecting a sample that provides poor estimates for known quantities. Stratified random sampling reduces the set of such possible samples by fixing the sample size within each stratum. However, undesirable samples are still possible with stratification. Rejective sampling removes poor performing samples by only retaining a sample if specified functions of sample estimates are within a tolerance of known values. The resulting samples are often said to be balanced on the function of the variables used in the rejection procedure. We provide modifications to the rejection procedure of Fuller (2009a) that allow more flexibility on the rejection rules. Through simulation, we compare estimation properties of a rejective sampling procedure to those of cube sampling.

The multidimensional integral business survey response model

Mojca Bavdaž


Knowledge of the causes of measurement errors in business surveys is limited, even though such errors may compromise the accuracy of the micro data and economic indicators derived from them. This article, based on an empirical study with a focus from the business perspective, presents new research findings on the response process in business surveys. It proposes the Multidimensional Integral Business Survey Response (MIBSR) model as a tool for investigating the response process and explaining its outcomes, and as the foundation of any strategy dedicated to reducing and preventing measurement errors.

Examining survey participation and response quality: The significance of topic salience and incentives

Lazarus Adua and Jeff S. Sharp


Nonresponse bias has been a long-standing issue in survey research (Brehm 1993; Dillman, Eltinge, Groves and Little 2002), with numerous studies seeking to identify factors that affect both item and unit response. To contribute to the broader goal of minimizing survey nonresponse, this study considers several factors that can impact survey nonresponse, using a 2007 Animal Welfare Survey Conducted in Ohio, USA. In particular, the paper examines the extent to which topic salience and incentives affect survey participation and item nonresponse, drawing on the leverage-saliency theory (Groves, Singer and Corning 2000). We find that participation in a survey is affected by its subject context (as this exerts either positive or negative leverage on sampled units) and prepaid incentives, which is consistent with the leverage-saliency theory. Our expectations are also confirmed by the finding that item nonresponse, our proxy for response quality, does vary by proximity to agriculture and the environment (residential location, knowledge about how food is grown, and views about the importance of animal welfare). However, the data suggests that item nonresponse does not vary according to whether or not a respondent received incentives.

Evaluating within household selection rules under a multi-stage design

Tom Krenzke, Lin Li and Keith Rust


The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) and the international Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL) surveys each involved stratified multi-stage area sample designs. During the last stage, a household roster was constructed, the eligibility status of each individual was determined, and the selection procedure was invoked to randomly select one or two eligible persons within the household. The objective of this paper is to evaluate the within-household selection rules under a multi-stage design while improving the procedure in future literacy surveys. The analysis is based on the current US household size distribution and intracluster correlation coefficients using the adult literacy data.  In our evaluation, several feasible household selection rules are studied, considering effects from clustering, differential sampling rates, cost per interview, and household burden. In doing so, an evaluation of within-household sampling under a two-stage design is extended to a four-stage design and some generalizations are made to multi-stage samples with different cost ratios.