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August, 1992 U.S. Government Contributions to Probability Sampling and Statistical Analysis
Joseph W. Duncan, William C. Shelton
Statist. Sci. 7(3): 320-338 (August, 1992). DOI: 10.1214/ss/1177011230


The Federal Government of the United States has collected and published an increasing volume of statistics from the founding of the republic, but its contributions to statistical theory and method did not really begin until 1933. Before then, the bulk of Federal statistics was done by tabulation and compilation, and methods were largely intuitive. The Roosevelt New Deal and the Committee on Government Statistics and Information Services (COGSIS) made probability sampling and statistical analysis a significant part of Government planning and operations. By early in World War II, Federal statisticians had become leaders rather than just followers in statistical theory and methods. This article provides a summary of how this happened and especially of the subsequent development of survey sampling from finite populations. Attention is then turned to the development of statistical analysis in the Federal Government, a more diverse subject, which is both related to probability sampling in significant ways and very interesting because it is probably still in an early stage of development. This paper also provides commentary on some recent developments in the Federal statistical system in general during the period 1977 to 1992.


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Joseph W. Duncan. William C. Shelton. "U.S. Government Contributions to Probability Sampling and Statistical Analysis." Statist. Sci. 7 (3) 320 - 338, August, 1992.


Published: August, 1992
First available in Project Euclid: 19 April 2007

MathSciNet: MR1181415
zbMATH: 0955.01564
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/ss/1177011230

Keywords: Probability sampling in the Federal Government , Sampling from finite populations , statistical analysis in the Federal Government , survey sampling

Rights: Copyright © 1992 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.7 • No. 3 • August, 1992
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