An Economist's Primer on Survey Samples
Survey data underlie most empirical work in economics, yet economists typically have little familiarity with survey sample design and its effects on inference. This paper describes how sample designs depart from the simple random sampling model implicit in most econometrics textbooks, points out where the effects of this departure are likely to be greatest, and describes the relationship between design-based estimators developed by survey statisticians and related econometric methods for regression. Its intent is to provide empirical economists with enough background in survey methods to make informed use of design-based estimators. It emphasizes surveys of households (the source of most public-use files), but also considers how surveys of businesses differ. Examples from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth of 1979 and the Current Population Survey illustrate practical aspects of design-based estimation.
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