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Sampling Error: Definition, Overview & Example

Updated: November 24, 2022

Sampling error occurs when your sample is not an exact representation of the population. If a sample is not an accurate reflection of the actual population, it will have a margin of error. This can happen for many reasons.

For example, a survey may be led in such a way as to exclude certain people or groups, or some people may be more willing to answer than others. It depends on the potential respondents and representative sample.

On this page you will find an overview, definition and examples of sampling error. Furthermore, you will also learn about different types of sampling error and how to avoid it.

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    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • When the study’s sample is unrepresentative of the entire population, sampling error arises.
    • Sampling is a type of analysis where a small sample of observations is chosen from a larger population.
    • Due to the fact that a sample is merely an approximate representation of the population from which it is collected, even randomized samples will contain some level of sampling error.
    • By increasing the sample size, sampling errors can be less common.
    • Population-specific error, selection error, sample frame error, and non-response error are generally considered to be the four categories under which sampling errors fall.

    What Is a Sampling Error?

    A sampling error is random differences between the results of a survey and the actual results of the population. Since the results of a survey can never be 100% accurate, sampling error is inevitable. In many ways, a sampling error provides several benefits when it comes to finance and accounting. 

    However, there are ways to reduce sampling error and make survey results more accurate. A sampling error is the difference between the results of a survey and the actual results of the population. 

    If a survey is conducted accurately, there should be no sampling error, but this rarely happens. It is very difficult to conduct surveys that are 100% accurate, so there will always be some degree of sampling error. This provides the potential for deviations and real values. 

    A sampling error can be beneficial to the field of finance. This is because for statistics offices to reallocate the sample to locations with high variance and reduce statistical error, accurate assessments of sampling error are essential.

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    Why Is Sampling Error Important?

    A survey may be conducted for a variety of reasons. It could be for the purposes of gaining insight into a specific problem or issue. It could be to learn about the general health of a population. 

    Whatever the reason for the survey, it is important to recognize its limitations. In order to make generalizations from the survey sample to the population, the survey sample must be a random sample. 

    This means that every member of the population has equal odds of being included in the sample. If the survey sample is not a random sample, the results cannot be generalized to the population. This is why it is so important to understand the limitations of surveys.

    Types of Sampling Errors

    There are many types of sampling errors that can occur when conducting a survey. Some of the most common types of sampling errors include non-response errors, coverage errors, non-sampling errors, and sampling errors.

    Non-Response Error

    Non-response errors are inaccuracies that happen when some people do not respond to the survey. This could happen for a variety of reasons, including the person being too busy to take the survey, the person refusing to take the survey, or the person being unable to take the survey for some reason.

    Coverage Error

    Coverage error occurs when the sample does not accurately represent the entire population. This could happen for a variety of reasons, including the sample being too small, the sample being unrepresentative of the population, or the sample being contaminated.

    Non-sampling Error

    Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that happen during the survey process. This could happen for a variety of reasons, including the survey being too long, the survey interviewer asking leading questions, or the questions being confusing.

    Selection Error

    This type of error occurs when the participants of the survey aren’t properly balanced. For example, only one portion of the population takes part in the survey.

    How Do You Calculate Sampling Error?

    In order to calculate the sampling error, you must first determine the standard error of the survey. The standard error of the survey can be calculated by using the following equation: The standard error of the survey is the standard deviation of the expected values. 

    Standard deviation is a statistical measure of how much variation exists between the sample survey results. The standard error of the survey depends on the sample size, the level of confidence, and the expected value. 

    The sample size is the number of people included in the survey. The level of confidence corresponds to the confidence level of the survey results. The expected value is the amount that the survey results will deviate from the true value.

    Eliminating Sampling Errors

    There are several steps you can take to reduce or even eliminate sampling errors. 

    Increasing Sample Size

    One of the most common ways to reduce sampling error is by increasing the sample size. If you want to reduce sampling error, you need to increase the sample size.

    Reducing the Level of Confidence

    If you want to reduce the standard error of the survey, you need to reduce the level of confidence. This means that you need to be less confident in the results.

    Improving Survey Methodology

    If your surveys have high levels of non-sampling error, you need to improve your survey methodology.

    Improving Survey Questions

    If your surveys have high levels of non-sampling error, you may need to revise your survey questions.

    Using Accepted Sampling Techniques

    If your surveys have high levels of non-sampling error, you need to use accepted sampling techniques.

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    Examples of Sampling Errors

    There are several different types of sampling errors that can occur. Some of the more common ones are:

    Sampling Bias

    Sampling bias is one of the most common types of sampling errors. It occurs when the members of the sample are unrepresentative of the population. If you have a survey that samples from one part of the country and does not represent the other parts of the country, you have a survey with sampling bias.

    Sample Coverage Error

    Sample coverage error is another type of common sampling error. It occurs when the sample does not cover the entire population. If your survey is conducted entirely online and does not include people who do not have internet access, you have a sample coverage error.

    Sample Size Too Small

    Sample size too small is another common sampling error. It occurs when the sample size is too small. If your sample size is too small, you have a sample size too small. 

    Sample Selection Bias

    Sample selection bias is another common sampling error. It occurs when the selection of the sample members is biased. If your survey sample is selected in a way that does not reflect the true population, you have a sample selection bias.

    Sample Unrepresentativeness

    Sample unrepresentativeness is another common sampling error. It occurs when the sample members are unrepresentative of the population. If your sample does not represent the true population, you have a sample unrepresentativeness.

    Sample Contamination

    Sample contamination is another common sampling error. It occurs when the sample members are contaminated by another sample. If you have a sample that is contaminated by another sample, you have a sample contamination.

    Sampling Error vs. Non-sampling Error

    While sampling error is an inherent part of sampling, non-sampling error is not. A non-sampling error is a mistake or problem that occurs during a research project that, while not inevitable, is avoidable. It can also depend if there is a minimum sample size that leads to larger sample size results. 

    Non-sampling errors are usually due to a lack of attention to detail or the failure to follow appropriate procedures. Examples of non-sampling errors include abandoning respondents before the survey is completed, failing to follow the correct survey instructions, and failing to account for peculiarities of the sample, such as a non-random sample.

    Summary

    A sampling error is the difference between a statistic based on a sample and the corresponding population parameter. Sampling error is due to chance of error or real differences between a sample and a population. 

    You can reduce it as the sample size increases. To avoid sampling error, researchers must carefully select a sample and employ good research design and methodology. It might sound ironic, but a sampling error can provide benefits to the finance and accounting industry. 

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    FAQs About Sampling Error

    What Is a Sampling Error and Standard Error?

    An analyst makes a statistical error known as a sampling error when they choose a sample that does not accurately represent the complete population of data. By utilizing standard deviation, the standard error is a statistical concept that assesses how accurately a sample distribution represents a population.

    Is a Sampling Error the Same As a Measurement Error?

    The prevalence of sampling errors and non-sampling errors are typically included to define measurement error. Measurement errors can be spontaneous or systematic, and they can cause extra variability and bias in statistical results. It’s the calculation of differences. 

    Is a Sampling Error Random or Systematic?

    The inaccuracy that results from the estimate being based on a random sample rather than a complete census of the population is the most significant aspect of random error. The size of samples can also come into play, such as the population of people or if it’s a subscription-based service.

    How Are Sampling Errors Controlled?

    By increasing the sample size based on the portion of people, sampling errors can be less common. The likelihood of departures from the real population declines as the sample size grows closer to the population as a whole. 

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