Total Survey Error


Total survey error (TSE) refers to the accumulation of all errors that may arise in the design, collection, processing, and analysis of survey data. In this context, a survey error can be defined as any error contributing to the deviation of a survey estimate from its true parameter value or of a survey observation from its true construct value. This entry further defines TSE in a survey data set or statistic and presents the latest developments in the field for evaluating and controlling errors as well as for designing surveys and censuses that minimize errors of all types. The entry traces the history of the main concepts embodied by the TSE framework and how the concepts have evolved over many decades. Several frameworks are discussed that can be applied to data sets and survey statistics—some which can be generalized for nonsurvey applications. The basic assumptions and models that underpin the TSE paradigm and their implications for survey measurement and evaluation are discussed. Strengths and weaknesses of the various TSE frameworks are described. Finally, an illustration of a quality evaluation process based on the TSE paradigm that was developed for Statistics Sweden is provided to demonstrate the utility of these frameworks for continuous quality improvement of official statistics.

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