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Difference between census and sampling

Census and sampling are two methods of collecting population survey data that are used by many countries. The census yes refers to the quantitative research method, in which all members of the population are listed. On the other hand, the sampling the method widely used in statistical tests, in which a data set is selected by the large population, which represents the whole group.

The census involves the complete enumeration of the objects of study, while Sampling connotes the enumeration of the subgroup of elements chosen for participation. These two methods of investigation are often in conflict with each other and therefore this article makes an attempt to clarify the differences between census and sampling, in detail; To take a look.

Comparative graph

Basis for comparison Census sampling
Sense The systematic method that collects and records data on members of the population called the Census. The sampling refers to a part of the population selected to represent the whole group, in all its characteristics.
Enumeration To complete Partial
Study of Every single unit of the population. Only a handful of units of the population.
Time required a process that takes time. a fast process.
Cost Expensive method Economic method
results Reliable and precise Less reliable and accurate, due to the margin of error in the data collected.
Error Not present. It depends on the size of the population
Appropriate for Population of heterogeneous nature. Homogeneous population.

Census definition

A well-organized procedure for collecting, recording and analyzing information about members of the population called the census. an official and complete count of the universe, in which each unit of the universe included in the data collection. Here the universe implies any region (city or town), a group of people, through which data can be acquired.

With this technique, the enumeration is carried out on the population considering the entire population. So this method requires enormous funding, time and effort to collect information. This useful method, to find out the relationship between male and female, the relationship between literate and illiterate people, the relationship between people living in urban areas and people in rural areas.

Definition of sampling

We define sampling as the process in which the fraction of the population, thus selected, represents the characteristics of the largest group. This method is used for statistical tests, where it is not possible to consider all members or observations, since the size of the population is very large.

Since statistical inferences are based on sample observations, the selection of the appropriate representative sample of the utmost importance. So, the selected sample should indicate the whole universe and not show a particular section. Based on data collected from representative samples, the conclusion drawn from the whole population. For example : a company places an order for raw materials simply by checking the sample.

The units that make up a sample are considered as "sampling units". The complete list of all sampling units called 'Sampling Frame'.

Key differences between census and sampling

The fundamental differences between census and sampling are discussed in detail in the following points:

  1. The census is a systematic method that collects and records data on members of the population. Sampling defined as the subset of the population selected to represent the whole group, in all its characteristics.
  2. The census alternatively known as a full survey method on enumeration. In contrast, sampling also known as a partial enumeration detection method.
  3. In the census, every single unit of population is searched. In contrast, only a handful of items are selected by the population for research.
  4. The census is a time-consuming method of investigation, while in the case of sampling, the survey does not take much time.
  5. The census method requires a high capital investment since it involves researching and collecting all the values ??of the population. Unlike sampling, which is a relatively inexpensive method.
  6. The results obtained by conducting a census are accurate and reliable while there are possibilities for errors in the results extracted from the sample.
  7. The size of the sample determines the probability of errors in the result, that is, the larger the population size, the lower the probability of errors and the smaller the size; the greater the chance of errors. This is not possible with the census since all the elements are taken into account.
  8. The most suitable census for the heterogeneous population. Contrary to sampling it is appropriate by its homogeneous nature.


Many people interpret the census as the opposite of sampling, in which all members of the population are considered rather than just a fraction. But the census is based on sampling to enumerate the population. Therefore, it is quite clear that these two quantitative research methodologies are different, but one cannot say that one is above the other.