Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.4, 1999. pp. 517–535
Statistical Methods for Developing Ratio Edit Tolerances for Economic Data
Katherine Jenny Thompson and Richard S. Sigman
Abstract:The U.S. Census Bureau developed general-purpose ratio edit software for use by the ten, sectors of the 1997 Economic Census. This software requires explicit bounds
(tolerances) for each ratio edit. We investigated statistical methods of automatically
setting tolerance limits, examining three methods: robust estimation (15% trimmed mean and
standard deviation); resistant fences (EDA method based on first and third quartiles and
interquartile range); and gap analysis (Distance Measurement Algorithm for the Selection
of Outliers, D_MASO). We also developed an approach for symmetrizing skewed distributions
of ratios using power transformations prior to tolerance development. We evaluated these
methods on two sets of historical data: the 1994 Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) and
the 1992 Business Census. In both data sets, we achieved success with some variation of
resistant fences and recommend that this methodology be used in the absence of
subject-matter expertise or known mathematical bounds on a ratio relationship.
Keywords:EDA (Exploratory Data Analysis); resistant; robust; ratio edit.
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