A two-step semiparametric method to accommodate sampling weights in multiple imputation

Multiple imputation (MI) is a well-established method to handle item-nonresponse in sample surveys. Survey data obtained from complex sampling designs often involve features that include unequal probability of selection. MI requires imputation to be congenial, that is, for the imputations to come from a Bayesian predictive distribution and for the observed and complete data estimator to equal the posterior mean given the observed or complete data, and similarly for the observed and complete variance estimator to equal the posterior variance given the observed or complete data; more colloquially, the analyst and imputer make similar modeling assumptions. Yet multiply imputed data sets from complex sample designs with unequal sampling weights are typically imputed under simple random sampling assumptions and then analyzed using methods that account for the sampling weights. This is a setting in which the analyst assumes more than the imputer, which can led to biased estimates and anti-conservative inference. Less commonly used alternatives such as including case weights as predictors in the imputation model typically require interaction terms for more complex estimators such as regression coefficients, and can be vulnerable to model misspecification and difficult to implement. We develop a simple two-step MI framework that accounts for sampling weights using a weighted finite population Bayesian bootstrap method to validly impute the whole population (including item nonresponse) from the observed data. In the second step, having generated posterior predictive distributions of the entire population, we use standard IID imputation to handle the item nonresponse. Simulation results show that the proposed method has good frequentist properties and is robust to model misspecification compared to alternative approaches. We apply the proposed method to accommodate missing data in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System when estimating means and parameters of regression models.