Small area estimation via M-quantile geographically weighted regression
The effective use of spatial information, that is, the geographic locations of population units, in a regression model-based approach to small area estimation is an important practical issue. One approach for incorporating such spatial information in a small area regression model is via GeographicallyWeighted Regression (GWR). In GWR, the relationship between the outcome variable and the covariates is characterised by local rather than global parameters, where local is defined spatially. In this paper, we investigate GWR-based small area estimation under the M-quantile modelling approach. In particular, we specify an M-quantile GWR model that is a local model for the M-quantiles of the conditional distribution of the outcome variable given the covariates. This model is then used to define a bias-robust predictor of the small area characteristic of interest that also accounts for spatial association in the data. An important spin-off from applying the M-quantile GWR small area model is that it can potentially offer more efficient synthetic estimation for out of sample areas. We demonstrate the usefulness of this framework through both model-based as well as design-based simulations, with the latter based on a realistic survey data set. The paper concludes with an illustrative application that focuses on estimation of average levels of Acid Neutralising Capacity for lakes in the Northeast of the USA.