Designing Household Survey Samples

Practical Guidelines

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This publication serves as a handbook that includes the main sample survey design issues that can conveniently be referred to by practicing national statisticians, researchers and analysts involved in sample survey work and activities in countries. Methodologically sound techniques that are grounded in statistical theory are used in this handbook, implying the use of probability sampling at each stage of the sample selection process. A well-designed household survey that is properly implemented can generate necessary information of sufficient quality and accuracy with speed and at a relatively low cost. The content of this publication can also be used, as a training guide for introductory courses in sample survey design at various statistical training institutions that offer courses in applied statistics, especially survey methodology.

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Sampling strategies

While chapter 2 on survey planning offered a general overview of the various phases of household survey operations, the present chapter is the first of several that concentrate solely on sampling aspects—the principal focus of the present handbook. This chapter briefly discusses probability versus non-probability sampling and argues why the former should always be used in household surveys. Considerable attention is given to sample size—the many parameters that determine it and how to calculate it. Techniques for achieving sampling efficiency in household surveys are presented. They include stratification, cluster sampling and sampling in stages, with special emphasis on two-stage sample designs (see definitions and descriptions of these concepts in table 3.1 and annex I). Various sampling options are provided and two major sample designs that have been used in many countries are described in detail. The special topics of (a) sampling in two phases to reach “rare” populations and (b) sampling to estimate change or trend are also discussed. The chapter concludes with a summary of recommendations.

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