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A Method for Formalizing Subjective Notions About the Effect on Non-Respondents in Sample Surveys

Rubin, Donald B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Educational Research, Measurement Techniques, Sampling, Statistical Analysis, Surveys


A method is given for estimating, in a subjective sense, the effect of non-respondents in a sample survey. The method is based on Bayesian techniques and yields a "confidence interval" for the value of the average response in the survey if all nonrespondents had responded. Background information which is recorded for both respondents and non-respondents plays an important role although it is not needed. The technique is illustrated with real survey data of 660 schools; 488 had 80 dependent variables recorded, 172 had no dependent variables recorded, and all 660 had 35 background variables recorded. On the basis of this example, it appears as if the method can be useful in practical problems. The general idea, of which the method presented here is only a specific example, can be applied to any problem with non-respondents and/or missing data. (26pp.)

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