I’m at the National Training Day for the Data Liberation Initiative, which is a Statistics Canada program and part of a week of data-related conferences and meetings taking place. (We also had a CAPDU meeting which I’ll post about separately.) This morning was a session on the Census and NHS, which doled out some interesting tidbits.
Very preliminary numbers on web completion rates of the NHS by people who filled out their Census form online are at about 60%. The Statistics Canada people were positive about this, but IMHO 60% is not good, especially for something that’s replacing a census. They will be doing followup with the non-responders, which may increase responses somewhat. We were told that the 40%-odd non-completion rate includes a small percentage who began their NHS but stopped before finishing. It will be interesting to see how NHS completion by people who got the paper census; my guess is they will be lower.
Groups exhibiting or likely to exhibit non-response bias were discussed; they include people with lower SES, immigrants and aboriginals as well as an additional group I hadn’t thought of before: males under 24.
Apparently the language questions that were added at the last minute to the short census to ward off a lawsuit caused some issues: they had to add another fold to the form to get it to mail, and there’s some concern that recipients won’t unfold fully and notice the additional questions.
Due to lack of resources, there will be no microdata file from the census, only the NHS one will be produced, though it will of course include the census questions. Vince Gray noted that this will make it impossible for researchers to check sample bias in their NHS analyses against a mandatory sample; the concern was noted.
We had also an interesting little discussion on Statistics Canada’s lack of a preservation policy, sparked by some comments from Laine Ruus on the loss of the print census publications.
The IASSIST international data conference will be going on later this week. I’m very much looking forward to the opening plenary on Wednesday: Ian Mckinnon, Chair of the Canadian National Statistics Council, will be discussing the Census issue. The program notes that the “National Statistics Council (is) the group that is tasked to provide Statistics Canada with its best advice. This advice did NOT include cancelling the long form census and substituting a voluntary National Household Survey.”