Skinner, C.J. and Elliot, M.J.
A measure of disclosure risk for microdata
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Statistical Methodology), 64, (4), . (doi:10.1111/1467-9868.00365).
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Protection against disclosure is important for statistical agencies releasing microdata files from sample surveys. Simple measures of disclosure risk can provide useful evidence to support decisions about release. We propose a new measure of disclosure risk: the probability that a unique match between a microdata record and a population unit is correct. We argue that this measure has at least two advantages. First, we suggest that it may be a more realistic measure of risk than two measures that are currently used with census data. Second, we show that consistent inference (in a specified sense) may be made about this measure from sample data without strong modelling assumptions. This is a surprising finding, in its contrast with the properties of the two 'similar' established measures. As a result, this measure has potentially useful applications to sample surveys. In addition to obtaining a simple consistent predictor of the measure, we propose a simple variance estimator and show that it is consistent. We also consider the extension of inference to allow for certain complex sampling schemes. We present a numerical study based on 1991 census data for about 450 000 enumerated individuals in one area of Great Britain. We show that the theoretical results on the properties of the point predictor of the measure of risk and its variance estimator hold to a good approximation for these data.
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