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Dueling Estimates: Closing Thoughts. Jennifer H. Madans. National Center for Health Statistics. Assumptions. Conflicting estimates are a problem for the Federal Statistical System They cause confusion among policy makers, the press and the public

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dueling estimates closing thoughts

Dueling Estimates:Closing Thoughts

Jennifer H. Madans

National Center for

Health Statistics

  • Conflicting estimates are a problem for the Federal Statistical System
    • They cause confusion among policy makers, the press and the public
    • They reduce confidence in the data produced by the system and each agency
  • The producers may understand and accept the causes but the users do not
  • Producers and users would prefer if estimates of what appear to be the same phenomena were similar if not the same
  • Much attention has been directed toward the problem but results have been unsatisfying
    • We are still talking about it at this seminar
the challenge
The Challenge
  • Multiple estimates is a natural result of a decentralized federal statistical system
    • Focus on maximizing the utility of information for Departmental policy needs
    • Focus on maximizing quality of each data collection activity
    • Internal needs trump cross system needs
session objective
Session Objective
  • Revisit possible solutions from a data collection life cycle point of view
  • Acknowledge the benefits and costs of different approaches
  • Start a discussion about what would be needed to have a more structured, proactive approach to reduce the impact of competing estimates and the associated costs
current situation
Current Situation
  • Previous speakers outlined several different approaches
    • Front end – joint planning and testing with coordinated implementation
    • Back end -- Explanation of what is being measured; potential source of difference; joint analysis; joint publication
front end solutions
Front End Solutions
  • Costly but hold promise
    • Increased cost of data collection
    • Reduced flexibility in collection cycle
    • Potential sacrifice of survey specific aims to achieve the system’s need for comparability
back end solutions
Back End Solutions
  • Solutions of lowest data collection and staff cost but are probably least satisfying
  • Will always be needed even if other approaches are used
system solution
System Solution
  • Statistical agencies produce multiple estimates of the same thing that generate little attention or confusion
  • Only a limited number are dueling
  • For these estimates, agree to designate which are ‘official’
    • Official estimates can be a set of related estimates each with specific uses
system solution1
System Solution
  • Requires more of a change in how agencies relate to each
  • Limits statistical agency ability to communicate with users, the press and the public
    • Could have unintended impact of budgets
which way forward
Which Way Forward
  • System is too complex to embrace one solution
    • How do we determine what solution works best for different types of estimates?
  • Not all ‘dueling estimates’ are equally problematic
    • How do we identify the ones that need most attention?
which way forward1
Which Way Forward
  • When are the costs of minimizing the existence of dueling estimates too high?
  • Are there other benefits of strengthening ‘System’ objectives in areas of data collection and dissemination of findings?