A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a specific given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include agriculture, business, and traffic censuses. The United Nations defines the essential features of population and housing censuses as "individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity and defined periodicity", and recommends that population censuses be taken at least every 10 years.
Other household surveys
Other surveys than the census may explore characteristics in households, such as fertility, family structure, and demographics.
Household surveys with at least 10,000 participants include:
- General Household Survey, conducted in private households in Great Britain. It is a repeated cross-sectional study, conducted annually, which uses a sample of 9,731 households in the 2006 survey.
- Generations and Gender Survey, conducted in several countries in Europe as well as Australia and Japan. The programme has collected least one wave of surveys in 19 countries, with an average of 9,000 respondents per country.
- Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, where the wave 1 panel consisted of 7,682 households and 19,914 individuals
- Integrated Household Survey, a survey made up of multiple other surveys in the UK. It includes about 340,000 respondents, making it the largest collection of social data in the UK after the census.
- National Survey of Family Growth, conducted in the United States by the National Center for Health Statistics division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand trends related to fertility, family structure, and demographics in the United States. The 2006-2010 NSFG surveyed 22,682 interviews.
- Panel Study of Income Dynamics in the United States, wherein data have been collected from the same families and their descendants since 1968. The study started with over 18,000 nationally representative individuals. It involved more than 9,000 individuals as of 2009.
- Socio-Economic Panel, a longitudinal panel dataset of the population in Germany. It is a household based study which started in 1984 and which reinterviews adult household members annually. In 2007, the study involved about 12,000 households, with more than 20,000 adult persons sampled.
- UK households: a longitudinal study, now known as Understanding Society. Its sample size is 40,000 households from the United Kingdom or approx. 100,000 individuals.
November 3, 1948: President Harry S. Truman
, shortly after being elected as President, smiles as he holds up a copy of the Chicago Tribune
issue predicting his electoral defeat. This image has become iconic of the consequences of bad polling data.
An opinion poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals.
Medical or health-related survey research is particularly concerned with uncovering knowledge-practice gaps. That is to say to reveal any inconsistencies between the established international recommended guidelines and the real time medical practice regarding a certain disease or clinical problem. In other words, some medical surveys aim at exploring the difference between the proper practice and the actual practice reported by the healthcare professionals. Medical survey research has also been used to collect information from the patients, caregivers and even the public on relevant health issues. In turn the information gathered from survey results can be used to upgrade the professional performance of healthcare personnel including physicians, develop the quality of healthcare delivered to patients, mend existing deficiencies of the healthcare delivery system and professional health education. Furthermore, the results of survey research can inform the public health domain and help conduct health awareness campaigns in vulnerable populations and guide healthcare policy-makers. This is especially true when survey research deals with a wide spread disease that constitutes a nationwide or global health challenge.