EVALUATION OF INTEGER WEIGHTING FOR THE 1997 CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE,
by Wendy Scholetzky, Sampling and Estimation Research Section, Research Division, National
Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250-2000, January
2000, Report No. RD-00-01.
The census of agriculture is an important source of statistics about the Nation’s agricultural production and
provides consistent, comparable data at the county, state, and national levels. Each census record has
weights which are used to produce totals for the entire population. The process of rounding weights to
integer values has been in place for the last several censuses. When a record’s weight is rounded to an
integer value, the totals represented by that record may or may not change dramatically. These changes
may or may not become negligible when producing totals at the state or county level. This report
compares totals calculated with the noninteger weights to the published totals (calculated with the integer
weights) for the 1997 Census of Agriculture, evaluates how different these totals are, and examines how
the differences relate to the standard error. The analysis examines a number of characteristics at both the
state and county levels. The report also examines another weighting approach where the noninteger
weights are applied to the record and the weighted data values are rounded at the record level. The
difference between totals produced with these values and the noninteger weights is calculated and
compared to the above differences.
The reasons for rounding weights, to ease data review procedures and to ensure that publication totals
add, are legitimate concerns. The author asserts that it is possible to address these two concerns and
improve the totals produced when NASS revamps the census processing system for the 2002 census.
1997 Census of Agriculture; Integer weight; Noninteger weight; t-value; Percent difference.
This paper was prepared for limited distribution to the research co