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With relatively small populations, or for specialized purposes, it may be reasonable to study the full population.  Such a study is referred to as a ''census''.  The most famous examples of censuses are the regular censuses conducted by most countries to catalog the characteristics of their populations, such as the United States Census conducted every ten years and the Canadian census conducted every five years.  In democratic countries, these censuses are important because they determine the basis of representation in national and subnational legislative bodies; they can also be important for the allocation of societal resources and for understanding the nature of social and economic problems faced by the population at large.
 
With relatively small populations, or for specialized purposes, it may be reasonable to study the full population.  Such a study is referred to as a ''census''.  The most famous examples of censuses are the regular censuses conducted by most countries to catalog the characteristics of their populations, such as the United States Census conducted every ten years and the Canadian census conducted every five years.  In democratic countries, these censuses are important because they determine the basis of representation in national and subnational legislative bodies; they can also be important for the allocation of societal resources and for understanding the nature of social and economic problems faced by the population at large.
  
However, social scientific researchers almost never have the resources sufficient to conduct such a census; for example, the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_Census#Cost 2010 U.S. Census cost] an estimated $13 billion U.S., or $42 U.S. per respondent, and required the hiring of thousands of enumerators and data processing employees.  A census may be practical in more limited settings, such as a small community or an institutional setting (such as a university or college) with a relatively small population.  A census may also be an appropriate approach to comparing the characteristics of large political units (for example, studying countries or subnational political units such as states and provinces) or the members of political bodies (such as a parliament or other legislature).
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However, social scientific researchers almost never have the resources sufficient to conduct such a census; for example, the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_Census#Cost|2010 U.S. Census cost] an estimated $13 billion U.S., or $42 U.S. per respondent, and required the hiring of thousands of enumerators and data processing employees.  A census may be practical in more limited settings, such as a small community or an institutional setting (such as a university or college) with a relatively small population.  A census may also be an appropriate approach to comparing the characteristics of large political units (for example, studying countries or subnational political units such as states and provinces) or the members of political bodies (such as a parliament or other legislature).
  
 
=Studying part of the population: sampling=
 
=Studying part of the population: sampling=

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