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The University of Southampton
Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute

Research project: Small area estimation under a two-part random effects model with application to estimation of literacy in developing countries

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This research, completed last year, considers situations where the target response value is either zero or an observation from a continuous distribution.

A typical example is the assessment of literacy proficiency with the possible outcome being either zero, indicating illiteracy, or a positive score measuring the level of literacy. Interest lies in obtaining valid estimates of the average response, or the proportion of positive responses in small areas, for which only small samples or no samples are available. Common models for SAE are not suitable for this kind of data because of the mixed distribution of the responses, having a large peak at zero, juxtaposed to a continuous distribution for the rest of the responses. We developed, therefore, a suitable two-part random effects model and showed how to fit the model and assess its goodness of fit, and how to compute the small area estimators of interest and measure their precision.

This project started as a Moffstat Msc dissertation by Benedicte Terryn under the supervision of Professor Danny Pfeffermann, with later collaboration by DR. Fernando Moura, a visitor from Brazil. It was partly founded by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), Montreal, Canada, and by a research grant from the Brazilian National Council for the Development of Science and Technology.


Pfeffermann, D; Terryn, B., and Moura, F. (2008). Small Area Estimation under a Two-Part Random Effects Model with Application to Estimation of Literacy in Developing Countries. Survey Methodology, 34, 233-247.

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