Representative quota sampling

Date of publication: June 15, 1962

Abstract:

The quota method is a statistical annoyance. In order to obtain a representative cross-section of the population using this procedure, interviewers are, of course, given very precise instructions as to how many interviews, they are to make in various social groups of the population, but within this exactly prescribed limits of "quotas" they can select people at .their own discretion. This freedom is the jumping off point for all criticism of the quota method. Nobody could foresee what yardstick the interviewers would apply when making their selection. All that could be said with any certainty is that they wouldn't succeed in making a random selection. In one sort of hedonistic theory it is assumed that the interviewers cater as much as possible to their own convenience in quota sampling - that they seek out only particularly pleasant respondents, cover as little ground as possible, and so on. Errors of this nature, it is argued, can be avoided solely by genuine random sampling in which, for example, the addresses of the respondents are prescribed and binding on the interviewers. In practice, examples have actually been found, which show that quota surveys can result in extreme distortions of cross-sections.

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