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Post-stratified estimation: within-strata and total sample size recommendations

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Post-stratification is used to reduce the variance of estimates of the mean. Because the stratification is not fixed in advance, within-strata sample sizes can be quite small. The survey statistics literature provides some guidance on minimum within-strata sample sizes; however, the recommendations and justifications are inconsistent and apply broadly for many different population structures. The impacts of minimum within-strata and total sample sizes on estimates of means and standard errors were examined for two forest inventory variables: proportion forestland and cubic net volume. Estimates of the means seem unbiased across a range of minimum within-strata sample sizes. A ratio that described the decrease in variability with increasing sample size allowed for assessment of minimum within-strata sample requirements to obtain stable estimates of means. This metric indicated that the minimum within-strata sample size should be at least 10. Estimates of standard errors were found to be biased at small total sample sizes. To obtain a bias of less than 3%, the required minimum total sample size was 25 for proportion forestland and 75 for cubic net volume. The results presented allow analysts to determine within-stratum and total sample size requirements corresponding to their criteria for acceptable levels of bias and variability.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200, Newtown Square, PA 19073, USA. 2: US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2150A Centre Ave., Suite 350, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA. 3: US Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 4700 Old Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919, USA.

Publication date: May 19, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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