What's more general than a whole population?

Alexander, N; (2015) What's more general than a whole population? Emerg Themes Epidemiol, 12. p. 11. ISSN 1742-7622 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12982-015-0029-4

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Statistical inference is commonly said to be inapplicable to complete population studies, such as censuses, due to the absence of sampling variability. Nevertheless, in recent years, studies of whole populations, e.g., all cases of a certain cancer in a given country, have become more common, and often report p values and confidence intervals regardless of such concerns. With reference to the social science literature, the current paper explores the circumstances under which statistical inference can be meaningful for such studies. It concludes that its use implicitly requires a target population which is wider than the whole population studied - for example future cases, or a supranational geographic region - and that the validity of such statistical analysis depends on the generalizability of the whole to the target population.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: Tropical Epidemiology Group
PubMed ID: 26308381
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/2287476


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