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The dissertation deals with methods to improve design-based and model-assisted estimation techniques for surveys in a finite population framework. The focus is on the development of the statistical methodology as well as their implementation by means of tailor-made numerical optimization strategies. In that regard, the developed methods aim at computing statistics for several potentially conflicting variables of interest at aggregated and disaggregated levels of the population on the basis of one single survey. The work can be divided into two main research questions, which are briefly explained in the following sections.
First, an optimal multivariate allocation method is developed taking into account several stratification levels. This approach results in a multi-objective optimization problem due to the simultaneous consideration of several variables of interest. In preparation for the numerical solution, several scalarization and standardization techniques are presented, which represent the different preferences of potential users. In addition, it is shown that by solving the problem scalarized with a weighted sum for all combinations of weights, the entire Pareto frontier of the original problem can be generated. By exploiting the special structure of the problem, the scalarized problems can be efficiently solved by a semismooth Newton method. In order to apply this numerical method to other scalarization techniques as well, an alternative approach is suggested, which traces the problem back to the weighted sum case. To address regional estimation quality requirements at multiple stratification levels, the potential use of upper bounds for regional variances is integrated into the method. In addition to restrictions on regional estimates, the method enables the consideration of box-constraints for the stratum-specific sample sizes, allowing minimum and maximum stratum-specific sampling fractions to be defined.
In addition to the allocation method, a generalized calibration method is developed, which is supposed to achieve coherent and efficient estimates at different stratification levels. The developed calibration method takes into account a very large number of benchmarks at different stratification levels, which may be obtained from different sources such as registers, paradata or other surveys using different estimation techniques. In order to incorporate the heterogeneous quality and the multitude of benchmarks, a relaxation of selected benchmarks is proposed. In that regard, predefined tolerances are assigned to problematic benchmarks at low aggregation levels in order to avoid an exact fulfillment. In addition, the generalized calibration method allows the use of box-constraints for the correction weights in order to avoid an extremely high variation of the weights. Furthermore, a variance estimation by means of a rescaling bootstrap is presented.
Both developed methods are analyzed and compared with existing methods in extensive simulation studies on the basis of a realistic synthetic data set of all households in Germany. Due to the similar requirements and objectives, both methods can be successively applied to a single survey in order to combine their efficiency advantages. In addition, both methods can be solved in a time-efficient manner using very comparable optimization approaches. These are based on transformations of the optimality conditions. The dimension of the resulting system of equations is ultimately independent of the dimension of the original problem, which enables the application even for very large problem instances.

Sample surveys are a widely used and cost effective tool to gain information about a population under consideration. Nowadays, there is an increasing demand not only for information on the population level but also on the level of subpopulations. For some of these subpopulations of interest, however, very small subsample sizes might occur such that the application of traditional estimation methods is not expedient. In order to provide reliable information also for those so called small areas, small area estimation (SAE) methods combine auxiliary information and the sample data via a statistical model.
The present thesis deals, among other aspects, with the development of highly flexible and close to reality small area models. For this purpose, the penalized spline method is adequately modified which allows to determine the model parameters via the solution of an unconstrained optimization problem. Due to this optimization framework, the incorporation of shape constraints into the modeling process is achieved in terms of additional linear inequality constraints on the optimization problem. This results in small area estimators that allow for both the utilization of the penalized spline method as a highly flexible modeling technique and the incorporation of arbitrary shape constraints on the underlying P-spline function.
In order to incorporate multiple covariates, a tensor product approach is employed to extend the penalized spline method to multiple input variables. This leads to high-dimensional optimization problems for which naive solution algorithms yield an unjustifiable complexity in terms of runtime and in terms of memory requirements. By exploiting the underlying tensor nature, the present thesis provides adequate computationally efficient solution algorithms for the considered optimization problems and the related memory efficient, i.e. matrix-free, implementations. The crucial point thereby is the (repetitive) application of a matrix-free conjugated gradient method, whose runtime is drastically reduced by a matrx-free multigrid preconditioner.

A basic assumption of standard small area models is that the statistic of interest can be modelled through a linear mixed model with common model parameters for all areas in the study. The model can then be used to stabilize estimation. In some applications, however, there may be different subgroups of areas, with specific relationships between the response variable and auxiliary information. In this case, using a distinct model for each subgroup would be more appropriate than employing one model for all observations. If no suitable natural clustering variable exists, finite mixture regression models may represent a solution that „lets the data decide“ how to partition areas into subgroups. In this framework, a set of two or more different models is specified, and the estimation of subgroup-specific model parameters is performed simultaneously to estimating subgroup identity, or the probability of subgroup identity, for each area. Finite mixture models thus offer a fexible approach to accounting for unobserved heterogeneity. Therefore, in this thesis, finite mixtures of small area models are proposed to account for the existence of latent subgroups of areas in small area estimation. More specifically, it is assumed that the statistic of interest is appropriately modelled by a mixture of K linear mixed models. Both mixtures of standard unit-level and standard area-level models are considered as special cases. The estimation of mixing proportions, area-specific probabilities of subgroup identity and the K sets of model parameters via the EM algorithm for mixtures of mixed models is described. Eventually, a finite mixture small area estimator is formulated as a weighted mean of predictions from model 1 to K, with weights given by the area-specific probabilities of subgroup identity.

This dissertation deals with consistent estimates in household surveys. Household surveys are often drawn via cluster sampling, with households sampled at the first stage and persons selected at the second stage. The collected data provide information for estimation at both the person and the household level. However, consistent estimates are desirable in the sense that the estimated household-level totals should coincide with the estimated totals obtained at the person-level. Current practice in statistical offices is to use integrated weighting. In this approach consistent estimates are guaranteed by equal weights for all persons within a household and the household itself. However, due to the forced equality of weights, the individual patterns of persons are lost and the heterogeneity within households is not taken into account. In order to avoid the negative consequences of integrated weighting, we propose alternative weighting methods in the first part of this dissertation that ensure both consistent estimates and individual person weights within a household. The underlying idea is to limit the consistency conditions to variables that emerge in both the personal and household data sets. These common variables are included in the person- and household-level estimator as additional auxiliary variables. This achieves consistency more directly and only for the relevant variables, rather than indirectly by forcing equal weights on all persons within a household. Further decisive advantages of the proposed alternative weighting methods are that original individual rather than the constructed aggregated auxiliaries are utilized and that the variable selection process is more flexible because different auxiliary variables can be incorporated in the person-level estimator than in the household-level estimator.
In the second part of this dissertation, the variances of a person-level GREG estimator and an integrated estimator are compared in order to quantify the effects of the consistency requirements in the integrated weighting approach. One of the challenges is that the estimators to be compared are of different dimensions. The proposed solution is to decompose the variance of the integrated estimator into the variance of a reduced GREG estimator, whose underlying model is of the same dimensions as the person-level GREG estimator, and add a constructed term that captures the effects disregarded by the reduced model. Subsequently, further fields of application for the derived decomposition are proposed such as the variable selection process in the field of econometrics or survey statistics.

Estimation and therefore prediction -- both in traditional statistics and machine learning -- encounters often problems when done on survey data, i.e. on data gathered from a random subset of a finite population. Additional to the stochastic generation of the data in the finite population (based on a superpopulation model), the subsetting represents a second randomization process, and adds further noise to the estimation. The character and impact of the additional noise on the estimation procedure depends on the specific probability law for subsetting, i.e. the survey design. Especially when the design is complex or the population data is not generated by a Gaussian distribution, established methods must be re-thought. Both phenomena can be found in business surveys, and their combined occurrence poses challenges to the estimation.
This work introduces selected topics linked to relevant use cases of business surveys and discusses the role of survey design therein: First, consider micro-econometrics using business surveys. Regression analysis under the peculiarities of non-normal data and complex survey design is discussed. The focus lies on mixed models, which are able to capture unobserved heterogeneity e.g. between economic sectors, when the dependent variable is not conditionally normally distributed. An algorithm for survey-weighted model estimation in this setting is provided and applied to business data.
Second, in official statistics, the classical sampling randomization and estimators for finite population totals are relevant. The variance estimation of estimators for (finite) population totals plays a major role in this framework in order to decide on the reliability of survey data. When the survey design is complex, and the number of variables is large for which an estimated total is required, generalized variance functions are popular for variance estimation. They allow to circumvent cumbersome theoretical design-based variance formulae or computer-intensive resampling. A synthesis of the superpopulation-based motivation and the survey framework is elaborated. To the author's knowledge, such a synthesis is studied for the first time both theoretically and empirically.
Third, the self-organizing map -- an unsupervised machine learning algorithm for data visualization, clustering and even probability estimation -- is introduced. A link to Markov random fields is outlined, which to the author's knowledge has not yet been established, and a density estimator is derived. The latter is evaluated in terms of a Monte-Carlo simulation and then applied to real world business data.

Die vorgelegte Dissertation trägt den Titel Regularization Methods for Statistical Modelling in Small Area Estimation. In ihr wird die Verwendung regularisierter Regressionstechniken zur geographisch oder kontextuell hochauflösenden Schätzung aggregatspezifischer Kennzahlen auf Basis kleiner Stichproben studiert. Letzteres wird in der Fachliteratur häufig unter dem Begriff Small Area Estimation betrachtet. Der Kern der Arbeit besteht darin die Effekte von regularisierter Parameterschätzung in Regressionsmodellen, welche gängiger Weise für Small Area Estimation verwendet werden, zu analysieren. Dabei erfolgt die Analyse primär auf theoretischer Ebene, indem die statistischen Eigenschaften dieser Schätzverfahren mathematisch charakterisiert und bewiesen werden. Darüber hinaus werden die Ergebnisse durch numerische Simulationen veranschaulicht, und vor dem Hintergrund empirischer Anwendungen kritisch verortet. Die Dissertation ist in drei Bereiche gegliedert. Jeder Bereich behandelt ein individuelles methodisches Problem im Kontext von Small Area Estimation, welches durch die Verwendung regularisierter Schätzverfahren gelöst werden kann. Im Folgenden wird jedes Problem kurz vorgestellt und im Zuge dessen der Nutzen von Regularisierung erläutert.
Das erste Problem ist Small Area Estimation in der Gegenwart unbeobachteter Messfehler. In Regressionsmodellen werden typischerweise endogene Variablen auf Basis statistisch verwandter exogener Variablen beschrieben. Für eine solche Beschreibung wird ein funktionaler Zusammenhang zwischen den Variablen postuliert, welcher durch ein Set von Modellparametern charakterisiert ist. Dieses Set muss auf Basis von beobachteten Realisationen der jeweiligen Variablen geschätzt werden. Sind die Beobachtungen jedoch durch Messfehler verfälscht, dann liefert der Schätzprozess verzerrte Ergebnisse. Wird anschließend Small Area Estimation betrieben, so sind die geschätzten Kennzahlen nicht verlässlich. In der Fachliteratur existieren hierfür methodische Anpassungen, welche in der Regel aber restriktive Annahmen hinsichtlich der Messfehlerverteilung benötigen. Im Rahmen der Dissertation wird bewiesen, dass Regularisierung in diesem Kontext einer gegen Messfehler robusten Schätzung entspricht - und zwar ungeachtet der Messfehlerverteilung. Diese Äquivalenz wird anschließend verwendet, um robuste Varianten bekannter Small Area Modelle herzuleiten. Für jedes Modell wird ein Algorithmus zur robusten Parameterschätzung konstruiert. Darüber hinaus wird ein neuer Ansatz entwickelt, welcher die Unsicherheit von Small Area Schätzwerten in der Gegenwart unbeobachteter Messfehler quantifiziert. Es wird zusätzlich gezeigt, dass diese Form der robusten Schätzung die wünschenswerte Eigenschaft der statistischen Konsistenz aufweist.
Das zweite Problem ist Small Area Estimation anhand von Datensätzen, welche Hilfsvariablen mit unterschiedlicher Auflösung enthalten. Regressionsmodelle für Small Area Estimation werden normalerweise entweder für personenbezogene Beobachtungen (Unit-Level), oder für aggregatsbezogene Beobachtungen (Area-Level) spezifiziert. Doch vor dem Hintergrund der stetig wachsenden Datenverfügbarkeit gibt es immer häufiger Situationen, in welchen Daten auf beiden Ebenen vorliegen. Dies beinhaltet ein großes Potenzial für Small Area Estimation, da somit neue Multi-Level Modelle mit großem Erklärungsgehalt konstruiert werden können. Allerdings ist die Verbindung der Ebenen aus methodischer Sicht kompliziert. Zentrale Schritte des Inferenzschlusses, wie etwa Variablenselektion und Parameterschätzung, müssen auf beiden Levels gleichzeitig durchgeführt werden. Hierfür existieren in der Fachliteratur kaum allgemein anwendbare Methoden. In der Dissertation wird gezeigt, dass die Verwendung ebenenspezifischer Regularisierungsterme in der Modellierung diese Probleme löst. Es wird ein neuer Algorithmus für stochastischen Gradientenabstieg zur Parameterschätzung entwickelt, welcher die Informationen von allen Ebenen effizient unter adaptiver Regularisierung nutzt. Darüber hinaus werden parametrische Verfahren zur Abschätzung der Unsicherheit für Schätzwerte vorgestellt, welche durch dieses Verfahren erzeugt wurden. Daran anknüpfend wird bewiesen, dass der entwickelte Ansatz bei adäquatem Regularisierungsterm sowohl in der Schätzung als auch in der Variablenselektion konsistent ist.
Das dritte Problem ist Small Area Estimation von Anteilswerten unter starken verteilungsbezogenen Abhängigkeiten innerhalb der Kovariaten. Solche Abhängigkeiten liegen vor, wenn eine exogene Variable durch eine lineare Transformation einer anderen exogenen Variablen darstellbar ist (Multikollinearität). In der Fachliteratur werden hierunter aber auch Situationen verstanden, in welchen mehrere Kovariate stark korreliert sind (Quasi-Multikollinearität). Wird auf einer solchen Datenbasis ein Regressionsmodell spezifiziert, dann können die individuellen Beiträge der exogenen Variablen zur funktionalen Beschreibung der endogenen Variablen nicht identifiziert werden. Die Parameterschätzung ist demnach mit großer Unsicherheit verbunden und resultierende Small Area Schätzwerte sind ungenau. Der Effekt ist besonders stark, wenn die zu modellierende Größe nicht-linear ist, wie etwa ein Anteilswert. Dies rührt daher, dass die zugrundeliegende Likelihood-Funktion nicht mehr geschlossen darstellbar ist und approximiert werden muss. Im Rahmen der Dissertation wird gezeigt, dass die Verwendung einer L2-Regularisierung den Schätzprozess in diesem Kontext signifikant stabilisiert. Am Beispiel von zwei nicht-linearen Small Area Modellen wird ein neuer Algorithmus entwickelt, welche den bereits bekannten Quasi-Likelihood Ansatz (basierend auf der Laplace-Approximation) durch Regularisierung erweitert und verbessert. Zusätzlich werden parametrische Verfahren zur Unsicherheitsmessung für auf diese Weise erhaltene Schätzwerte beschrieben.
Vor dem Hintergrund der theoretischen und numerischen Ergebnisse wird in der Dissertation demonstriert, dass Regularisierungsmethoden eine wertvolle Ergänzung der Fachliteratur für Small Area Estimation darstellen. Die hier entwickelten Verfahren sind robust und vielseitig einsetzbar, was sie zu hilfreichen Werkzeugen der empirischen Datenanalyse macht.

The Eurosystem's Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS) collects micro data on private households' balance sheets, income and consumption. It is a stylised fact that wealth is unequally distributed and that the wealthiest own a large share of total wealth. For sample surveys which aim at measuring wealth and its distribution, this is a considerable problem. To overcome it, some of the country surveys under the HFCS umbrella try to sample a disproportionately large share of households that are likely to be wealthy, a technique referred to as oversampling. Ignoring such types of complex survey designs in the estimation of regression models can lead to severe problems. This thesis first illustrates such problems using data from the first wave of the HFCS and canonical regression models from the field of household finance and gives a first guideline for HFCS data users regarding the use of replicate weight sets for variance estimation using a variant of the bootstrap. A further investigation of the issue necessitates a design-based Monte Carlo simulation study. To this end, the already existing large close-to-reality synthetic simulation population AMELIA is extended with synthetic wealth data. We discuss different approaches to the generation of synthetic micro data in the context of the extension of a synthetic simulation population that was originally based on a different data source. We propose an additional approach that is suitable for the generation of highly skewed synthetic micro data in such a setting using a multiply-imputed survey data set. After a description of the survey designs employed in the first wave of the HFCS, we then construct new survey designs for AMELIA that share core features of the HFCS survey designs. A design-based Monte Carlo simulation study shows that while more conservative approaches to oversampling do not pose problems for the estimation of regression models if sampling weights are properly accounted for, the same does not necessarily hold for more extreme oversampling approaches. This issue should be further analysed in future research.

Official business surveys form the basis for national and regional business statistics and are thus of great importance for analysing the state and performance of the economy. However, both the heterogeneity of business data and their high dynamics pose a particular challenge to the feasibility of sampling and the quality of the resulting estimates. A widely used sampling frame for creating the design of an official business survey is an extract from an official business register. However, if this frame does not accurately represent the target population, frame errors arise. Amplified by the heterogeneity and dynamics of business populations, these errors can significantly affect the estimation quality and lead to inefficiencies and biases. This dissertation therefore deals with design-based methods for optimising business surveys with respect to different types of frame errors.
First, methods for adjusting the sampling design of business surveys are addressed. These approaches integrate auxiliary information about the expected structures of frame errors into the sampling design. The aim is to increase the number of sampled businesses that are subject to frame errors. The element-specific frame error probability is estimated based on auxiliary information about frame errors observed in previous samples. The approaches discussed consider different types of frame errors and can be incorporated into predefined designs with fixed strata.
As the second main pillar of this work, methods for adjusting weights to correct for frame errors during estimation are developed and investigated. As a result of frame errors, the assumptions under which the original design weights were determined based on the sampling design no longer hold. The developed methods correct the design weights taking into account the errors identified for sampled elements. Case-number-based reweighting approaches, on the one hand, attempt to reconstruct the unknown size of the individual strata in the target population. In the context of weight smoothing methods, on the other hand, design weights are modelled and smoothed as a function of target or auxiliary variables. This serves to avoid inefficiencies in the estimation due to highly scattering weights or weak correlations between weights and target variables. In addition, possibilities of correcting frame errors by calibration weighting are elaborated. Especially when the sampling frame shows over- and/or undercoverage, the inclusion of external auxiliary information can provide a significant improvement of the estimation quality. For those methods whose quality cannot be measured using standard procedures, a procedure for estimating the variance based on a rescaling bootstrap is proposed. This enables an assessment of the estimation quality when using the methods in practice.
In the context of two extensive simulation studies, the methods presented in this dissertation are evaluated and compared with each other. First, in the environment of an experimental simulation, it is assessed which approaches are particularly suitable with regard to different data situations. In a second simulation study, which is based on the structural survey in the services sector, the applicability of the methods in practice is evaluated under realistic conditions.

Survey data can be viewed as incomplete or partially missing from a variety of perspectives and there are different ways of dealing with this kind of data in the prediction and the estimation of economic quantities. In this thesis, we present two selected research contexts in which the prediction or estimation of economic quantities is examined under incomplete survey data.
These contexts are first the investigation of composite estimators in the German Microcensus (Chapters 3 and 4) and second extensions of multivariate Fay-Herriot (MFH) models (Chapters 5 and 6), which are applied to small area problems.
Composite estimators are estimation methods that take into account the sample overlap in rotating panel surveys such as the German Microcensus in order to stabilise the estimation of the statistics of interest (e.g. employment statistics). Due to the partial sample overlaps, information from previous samples is only available for some of the respondents, so the data are partially missing.
MFH models are model-based estimation methods that work with aggregated survey data in order to obtain more precise estimation results for small area problems compared to classical estimation methods. In these models, several variables of interest are modelled simultaneously. The survey estimates of these variables, which are used as input in the MFH models, are often partially missing. If the domains of interest are not explicitly accounted for in a sampling design, the sizes of the samples allocated to them can, by chance, be small. As a result, it can happen that either no estimates can be calculated at all or that the estimated values are not published by statistical offices because their variances are too large.