Sunday, May 22, 2011

National Household Survey

So here I am filling out the online census form for my household. Just a few questions that didn't take long at all to complete and I'm given a confirmation number. Then suddenly I find myself at new screen responding to questions that look a lot like those on the defunct long-form. Welcome to the 1 in 3 household National Household Survey.

The National Household Survey (NHS) contains all of the questions that Statistics Canada contemplated for inclusion in a 2011 Census long-form. The NHS is therefore identical in content to what would have been collected in a 2011 Census long-form...
In its initial planning, Statistics Canada assumed a response rate for a mandatory 2011 Census long-form of 94%, identical to that achieved for the 2006 Census.
Statistics Canada has assumed a response rate of 50% for the voluntary National Household Survey...

Statistics Canada, in consultation with the Minister, has fixed the sampling rate for the National Household Survey at one in three households, a 65% increase relative to the initial plan.
Sampling error
Like the previous long-form census, the objective of the National Household Survey is to produce accurate estimates from the questions asked for a wide variety of geographic areas ranging from very large (such as provinces and census metropolitan areas) to very small (such as neighbourhoods and municipalities) and for various population subgroups such as aboriginal peoples and immigrants. Such population subgroups will also range in size, in particular when cross-classified by geographic areas. These groupings are generally referred to as “domains of interest”.
...We have never previously conducted a survey on the scale of the voluntary National Household Survey, nor are we aware of any other country that has. The new methodology has been introduced relatively rapidly with limited testing. The effectiveness of our mitigation strategies to offset non-response bias and other quality limiting effects is largely unknown. For these reasons, it is difficult to anticipate the quality level of the final outcome.
The significance of any quality shortcomings depends, to some extent, on the intended use of the data. Given that, and our mitigation strategies, we are confident that the National Household Survey will produce usable and useful data that will meet the needs of many users. It will not, however, provide a level of quality that would have been achieved through a mandatory long-form census.
 Good on Statistics Canada for trying.

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