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Sampling error addresses how much, on average, the sample estimates of a study characteristic or variable, such as years of education, differ from sample to sample. Sampling error is essential in describing research results, how much they vary, and the statistical level of confidence that can be placed in them. Sampling error is also critical in tests of classic statistical significance. This entry provides basic definitions of concepts inextricably related to sampling error, describes when it is appropriate to calculate sampling error, and outlines when complications might occur in these calculations.

Populations and Samples

Which candidate do voters prefer in an upcoming election? What is the average level of formal education among American adults at least 25 years old? Considerable research tries to ascertain the value of ...

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