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The population of inference refers to the population (or universe) to which the results from a sample survey are meant to generalize. Surveys are used to study characteristics of, and make generalizations about, populations. There are different terms that are used to describe the population, but the most commonly used is the target population, which is a finite set of elements to be studied. However, the term population of inference (or inferential population) is used more often during the conceptualization stage of research studies and surveys.

The target population is specified with the content of the study elements (e.g. general population, students), the units to which the elements belong (e.g. household, school classroom), the geographic boundaries (e.g. country, state), and the time periods (e.g. month, year). ...

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