Difference Between Census & Sampling

Census and sampling are two methods of collecting data between which certain differences can be identified. A census can simply be defined as a periodic collection of information from the entire population. Conducting a census can be very time-consuming and costly. However, the advantage is that it allows the researcher to gain accurate information. On the other hand, sampling is when the researcher selects a sample from the population and gathers information. This is less time consuming, but the reliability of the information gained is doubtful. Through this article let us examine the differences between a census and sampling.

What is a Census?

Census refers to a periodic collection of information from the entire population. It is a time-consuming affair as it involves counting all heads and generating information about them. For better governance, every government requires specific data and information about the populace to make programs and policies that match the needs and requirements of the population. A census allows the government to gain such information.

What is Sampling?

There are times when a government cannot wait for next Census and needs to gather current information about the population. This is when a different technique of collecting information that is less elaborate and cheaper than Census is employed. This is called Sampling. This method of collecting information requires generating a sample that is representative of the entire population.
When using a sample for data collection the researcher can use various methods of sampling. Simple random sampling, stratified sampling, snowball method, nonrandom sampling are some of the mostly used sampling methods.
There are stark differences between Census and sampling though both serve the purpose of providing data and information about a population. Howsoever accurately, a sample from a population may be generated there will always be a margin for error, whereas in case of Census, the entire population is taken into account and as such it is most accurate. Data obtained from both Census and sampling is extremely important for a government for various purposes such as planning developmental programs and policies for weaker sections of the society.

What is the Difference Between Census and Sampling?

Definitions of Census and Sampling:
Census: Census refers to a periodic collection of information about the populace from the entire population.
Sampling: Sampling is a method of collecting information from a sample that is representative of the entire population.
Characteristics of Census and Sampling:
Census: Data from the census is reliable and accurate.
Sampling: there is a margin of error in data obtained from sampling.
Census: Census is very time-consuming.
Sampling: Sampling is quick.
Census: Census is very expensive
Sampling: Sampling is inexpensive.
Census: Census is not very convenient as the researcher has to allocate a lot of effort in collecting data.
Sampling: Sampling is the most convenient method of obtaining data about the population.

Key Takeaways

  • Census involves collecting information from the entire population, while sampling collects information from a representative sample of the population.
  • Census data is more reliable and accurate, but it is time-consuming and costly, whereas sampling is quicker and less expensive but has a margin of error.
  • Sampling is more convenient for researchers, as it requires less effort to collect data compared to a census.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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