Census vs Survey
Census and survey are two words that we commonly hear only to confuse between these two techniques of collecting information about basically everything under the sun. Survey could be an attempt by an organization to find out the level of satisfaction among its customers about its services to a much bigger survey carried out by a government to decide on major welfare policies for different sections of the society. Survey is actually a technique that takes out a sample from a population scientifically to arrive at a decision for the entire population. This article attempts to clarify differences between census and survey to have a better understanding of these two sampling techniques.
Census is a large survey carried out by governments generally to gather information pertaining to the population. This is a mammoth exercise depending upon the size of the population and the area of the country as it involves reaching out to each and every household to ask questions printed on a questionnaire. Carrying out census could be a very time consuming and expensive affair requiring a high number of personnel. Having all the information about the total number of people in different age groups, genders, working in different sectors, their income levels, lifestyles etc provides government with the ammunition it needs to formulate policies for the uplift of the backward sections of the society. Census is such a large and time consuming exercise that it cannot be carried out on a specific requirement and on a short notice. This is the reason why all necessary questions are included in the questionnaire when this mammoth exercise is finally carried out in the country.
In a survey, a sample of the population is selected at random, and data is collected quickly and in an inexpensive manner. Survey could be as small as among the students of a school or the employees of a company to as large as cancer patients around the country. This means that data obtained from a survey could be at a local level, regional level, or national level depending upon the goal of the survey. Entire population is not involved in the case of a survey which lowers the accuracy of the results obtained. However, survey is quick and inexpensive and can be carried out whenever required.
What is the difference between Census and Survey?
• Census involves asking questions from the entire population while survey involves taking out a sample from the population that represent the population best from the point of view of the goal of the survey.
• Survey is quick and gives results quickly too while census is time consuming and takes a long time to generate results.
• Survey is rather inexpensive, whereas census is a mammoth exercise requiring lots of money and a high number of personnel.
• Census is obviously more accurate than survey where accuracy is somewhat less.