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Practical Considerations in Applying the pq‐Rule for Primary Disclosure Suppressions

Meghan S. O'Malley and Lawrence R. Ernst


As statistical agencies try to "move as far as possible toward the use of a small number of standardized disclosure limitation methods whose effectiveness has been demonstrated" (Working Paper 22), many practical difficulties arise in applying standard sensitivity measures to particular data sets. This paper discusses possible ways of handling several common complications which arise when applying the pq-rule. These include analysis of changes in disclosure risk due to imputation, suggestions for use of weights as protection, and discussion of handling final weights less than one (generally arising from controlling sampled statistics to independent universe values). Ideas in this paper come mainly from considering how the pq-Rule could be applied to the Occupational Employment Statistics survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in partnership with the States.