Review Articles

Using state space models as a statistical impact measurement of survey redesigns: a case study of the labour force survey of the Australian Bureau of Statistics

Xichuan (Mark) Zhang ,

Methodology Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Canberra, Australia

Jan A. van den Brakel ,

Department of Statistical Methods, Statistics Netherlands and Department of Quantitative Economics, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Canberra, Australia

Siu-Ming Tam

Methodology Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Canberra, Australia; National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia, University of Wollongong, Canberra, Australia

Pages 224-238 | Received 02 Nov. 2018, Accepted 03 Oct. 2019, Published online: 16 Oct. 2019,
  • Abstract
  • Full Article
  • References
  • Citations


The goals of any major business transformation programme in an official statistical agency often include improving data collection efficiency, data processing methodologies and data quality. However, the achievement of such improvements may have transitional statistical impacts that could be misinterpreted as real-world changes if they are not measured and handled appropriately.

This paper describes a development work that sought to explore the design and analysis of a times-series experiment that measured the statistical impacts that sometimes occur during survey redesigns. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was used as a case study. In the present study:

  1. A large-scale field experiment was designed and conducted that allowed the outgoing and the incoming surveys to run in parallel for some periods to measure the impacts of any changes to the survey process; and

  2. The precision of the impact measurement was continuously improved while the new survey design was being implemented.

The state space modelling (SSM) technique was adopted as the main approach, as it provides an efficient impact measurement. This approach enabled sampling error structure to be incorporated in the time-series intervention analysis. The approach was also able to be extended to take advantage of the availability of other related data sources (e.g., the data obtained from the parallel data collection process) to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the impact measurement. As stated above, the LFS was used as a case study; however, the models and methods developed in this study could be extended to other surveys.


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