Ask Difference

Census vs. Sampling — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 26, 2023
Census involves collecting data from an entire population, while sampling gathers data from a subset of the population.
Census vs. Sampling — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Census and Sampling


Key Differences

A Census, by definition, is the procedure of systematically collecting, assessing, and interpreting data from an entire population. It provides comprehensive data, ensuring no unit from the population is left out.
Sampling, however, focuses on gathering data from a particular segment or subset of the population, which serves as a representation of the whole.
Due to the vastness of populations, a Census can often be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly. In contrast, Sampling, by concentrating on a smaller group, is generally quicker, more economical, and more manageable.
While the primary advantage of a Census is its accuracy, as it covers the entire population, Sampling offers more feasibility but introduces a margin of error because the data is derived from a subset, not the whole.
It's vital to note that the choice between Census and Sampling depends on the research's purpose, resources available, and the precision required.

Comparison Chart


Entire population
Subset of the population

Cost and Time Efficiency

Generally high cost and time-consuming
More cost-effective and quicker


Highly accurate as it covers the whole population
Introduces a margin of error


Challenging for vast populations
More feasible for large populations


Typically done at regular, longer intervals
Can be conducted more frequently

Compare with Definitions


Systematic data collection from all population units.
The national Census provided detailed demographics.


The act of selecting a subset for study.
Sampling helped researchers understand broader market trends.


An official periodic count.
The Census results influence legislative representation.


A method to infer about a population.
Through Sampling, they predicted the election results.


A complete count of a population.
The government conducts the Census every ten years.


Collecting data from a representative group.
They used random Sampling for the health survey.


A tool for population demographics.
The Census revealed shifts in urban and rural populations.


A technique for efficient data collection.
Sampling saved time during the extensive research study.


A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. This term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include the census of agriculture, and other censuses such as the traditional culture, business, supplies, and traffic censuses.


A process that may introduce a margin of error.
Though Sampling is efficient, it's not as accurate as a full Census.


An official, usually periodic enumeration of a population, often including the collection of related demographic information.


(Statistics) See sample.


In ancient Rome, a count of the citizens and an evaluation of their property for taxation purposes.


The act, process, or technique of selecting an appropriate sample.


To include in a census; conduct a census of
"Every plant one centimeter in diameter or larger is censused every five years" (John P. Wiley, Jr.).


A small portion, piece, or segment selected as a sample.


An official count or enumeration of members of a population (not necessarily human), usually residents or citizens in a particular region, often done at regular intervals.


Present participle of sample


Count, tally.


The process or technique of obtaining a representative sample.


(transitive) To conduct a census on.


A sample.


(intransitive) To collect a census.


(statistics) The analysis of a group by determining the characteristics of a significant percentage of its members chosen at random.


A numbering of the people, and valuation of their estate, for the purpose of imposing taxes, etc.; - usually made once in five years.


(signal processing) The measurement, at regular intervals, of the amplitude of a varying waveform in order to convert it to digital form.


An official registration of the number of the people, the value of their estates, and other general statistics of a country.


(music) Electronically splicing pieces of previously recorded sound as part of a composition, especially as part of hip-hop or electronic dance music.


A period count of the population


(statistics) the selection of a suitable sample for study


Conduct a census;
They censused the deer in the forest


Items selected at random from a population and used to test hypotheses about the population


An enumeration of a specific population.
The animal Census showed increased numbers in the wild.


Measurement at regular intervals of the amplitude of a varying waveform (in order to convert it to digital form)

Common Curiosities

Why would one choose a Census over Sampling?

A Census is chosen for comprehensive data, especially when high accuracy is paramount.

Can Sampling be as accurate as a Census?

Sampling may introduce errors, while a Census, covering the entire population, is inherently more accurate.

Why is Sampling more common in market research?

Sampling is quicker, more cost-effective, and feasible for studying large populations in market research.

How often is a national Census typically conducted?

Many countries, like the U.S., conduct a national Census every ten years.

Why might researchers use stratified Sampling?

Stratified Sampling ensures representation from specific subgroups within a population.

How is the sample size determined in Sampling?

Sample size depends on the research goals, desired precision, and population variability.

What are the main drawbacks of a Census?

Censuses can be costly, time-consuming, and challenging to manage, especially for vast populations.

Do all countries conduct a Census?

Most countries conduct Censuses, but the frequency and methodology can differ.

How does a Census impact public policy?

Census data informs policymaking by revealing population demographics, needs, and changes.

Is a Census always conducted nationally?

Often associated with national counts, a Census can also be conducted for smaller groups or areas.

Can Sampling be done without random selection?

Yes, there are non-random sampling methods, like quota or convenience sampling.

Can Sampling replace a Census?

For certain studies, Sampling can be an effective alternative, but it doesn't offer a Census's exhaustive detail.

Are online surveys a form of Sampling?

Yes, online surveys typically gather data from a sample of the target population, not the entire group.

Can Sampling results generalize to the entire population?

If done correctly, Sampling can provide results representative of the entire population.

Is there a perfect sample size for Sampling?

No, the ideal sample size varies based on the research's purpose, desired accuracy, and population size.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Next Comparison
Inc. vs. LLC

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms