IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Does Weighting for Nonresponse Increase the Variance of Survey Means?

Listed author(s):
  • Rod Little

    (University of Michigan)

  • Sonya Vartivarian

    (University of Michigan)

Nonresponse weighting is a common method for handling unit nonresponse in surveys. A widespread view is that the weighting method is aimed at reducing nonresponse bias, at the expense of an increase in variance. Hence, the efficacy of weighting adjustments becomes a bias-variance trade-off. This note suggests that this view is an oversimplification -- nonresponse weighting can in fact lead to a reduction in variance as well as bias. A covariate for a weighting adjustment must have two characteristics to reduce nonresponse bias - it needs to be related to the probability of response, and it needs to be related to the survey outcome. If the latter is true, then weighting can reduce, not increase, sampling variance. A detailed analysis of bias and variance is provided in the setting of weighting for an estimate of a survey mean based on adjustment cells. The analysis suggests that the most important feature of variables for inclusion in weighting adjustments is that they are predictive of survey outcomes; prediction of the propensity to respond is a secondary, though useful, goal. Empirical estimates of root mean squared error for assessing when weighting is effective are proposed and evaluated in a simulation study.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Berkeley Electronic Press in its series The University of Michigan Department of Biostatistics Working Paper Series with number 1034.

in new window

Date of creation: 11 Jul 2004
Handle: RePEc:bep:mchbio:1034
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bep:mchbio:1034. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.