Census Survey vs. Sample Survey

What is the difference between a census survey and a sample survey? A survey is a commonly used…

What is the difference between a census survey and a sample survey?

A survey is a commonly used method of sampling the population on various issues to find out what the majority of people think. This is often done by companies to find out how consumers feel about products or services. Surveys are carried out all over the world, with two of the most popular types being a census survey and a sample survey. Although both of these kinds of surveys are similar, they are done in a different manner and produce different results. The choice of which survey to use often depends on how much time is available, as well as on other circumstances.

A sample is portion of the population of a specific location and a census is refers to everyone in the population. This means that a census survey is much larger in scope than a sample survey. It takes a lot more time to complete because information needs to be gathered about every single person. A sample survey is only done on a small number of the people and the results are then analyzed and extended to the population as a whole.

Census surveys are usually carried out by governments. The process is expensive and time-consuming because a large number of people are involved in collecting the information and policies have to be formulated so that they apply to the general population. In order for the government to know how many people live in the country, it has to count every person. In this case a sample survey would not produce the desired results. However, if the government wanted to find out how many cancer patients would be interested in a specific program, a sample survey that uses a number of cancer patients would suffice and the result would be generalized according to the ratio of those surveyed to the total number of patients.

Errors do occur in a sample survey and although they can be minimized, they cannot be eliminated entirely. A census survey is accurate because it involves everyone. A sample survey is used when it is not feasible to do a census survey.


  1. Two ways of gathering information from people is through a sample survey and a census survey.
  2. Every individual is surveyed in a census survey.
  3. A census survey is very broad, time –consuming and expensive.
  4. A sample survey uses a portion of the population.
  5. There is a margin of error in a sample survey.
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