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Multivariate Small Area Estimation of Multidimensional Latent Economic Well-being Indicators

Moretti, A ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6543-9418, Shlomo, N and Sakshaug, JW (2019) Multivariate Small Area Estimation of Multidimensional Latent Economic Well-being Indicators. International Statistical Review. ISSN 0306-7734

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© 2019 The Authors. International Statistical Review © 2019 International Statistical Institute Factor analysis models are used in data dimensionality reduction problems where the variability among observed variables can be described through a smaller number of unobserved latent variables. This approach is often used to estimate the multidimensionality of well-being. We employ factor analysis models and use multivariate empirical best linear unbiased predictor (EBLUP) under a unit-level small area estimation approach to predict a vector of means of factor scores representing well-being for small areas. We compare this approach with the standard approach whereby we use small area estimation (univariate and multivariate) to estimate a dashboard of EBLUPs of the means of the original variables and then averaged. Our simulation study shows that the use of factor scores provides estimates with lower variability than weighted and simple averages of standardised multivariate EBLUPs and univariate EBLUPs. Moreover, we find that when the correlation in the observed data is taken into account before small area estimates are computed, multivariate modelling does not provide large improvements in the precision of the estimates over the univariate modelling. We close with an application using the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions data.

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