–Sampling V.E.S College of Arts, Science & Commerce
Census versus Sample
Census in simple terms means to measure each element in the group or population of interest.
A part of a population, or a subset from a set of units, which is provided by someprocess or other, usually by deliberate selection with the object of investigatingthe properties of the parent population or set.
Surveys of industrial consumers or of distributors of consumer products arefrequently in the form of a census.
However there are certain reasons, which make census impractical or evenimpossible. The reasons are as follows:
Cost: Cost is an obvious constraint on the determination of whether a censusshould be taken. If information is desired on grocery purchase and usebehaviour (frequencies and amounts of purchase of each product category,average amount kept at home and the like) and the population of interest is allhouseholds in a country, the cost will preclude a census being taken. Thus asample is the only logical way of obtaining new data from a population of thissize.
Time : The kind of cost we have just considered is an outlay cost. The timeinvolved in obtaining information from either a census or a sample involvesthe possibility of also incurring an opportunity cost. That is, the decision untilinformation is obtained may result in a smaller gain or a larger loss than wouldhave been the case from making the same decision earlier. The opportunity tomake more (or save more, as the case may be) is, therefore, foregone.
Accuracy : A study using a census, by definition, contains no sampling error. Astudy using a sample may involve sampling error in addition to other types of error. Other things being equal, a census will provide more accurate data thana sample.However it has been argued that a more accurate estimate of the populationof a country could be made from a sample than from a census. Taking acensus of a population on a “mail out – mail back” basis requires that thenames and addresses of almost all households be obtained, census