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Stratified sampling is commonly used probability method that is superior to random sampling because it reduces sampling error. A stratum is a subset of the population that share at least one common characteristic. Examples of stratums might be males and females, or managers and non-managers. The researcher first identifies the relevant stratums and their actual representation in the population. Random sampling is then used to select a sufficient number of subjects from each stratum. "Sufficient" refers to a sample size large enough for us to be reasonably confident that the stratum represents the population. Stratified sampling is often used when one or more of the stratums in the population have a low incidence relative to the other stratums.

Stratified sampling strategies

Proportionate allocation uses a sampling fraction in each of the strata that is proportional to that of the total population. If the population consists of 60% in the male stratum and 40% in the female stratum, then the relative size of the two samples (three males, two females) should reflect this proportion.

Optimum allocation (or Disproportionate allocation) - Each stratum is proportionate to the standard deviation of the distribution of the variable. Larger samples are taken in the strata with the greatest variability to generate the least possible sampling variance.

A real-world example of using stratified sampling would be for a US political survey. If we wanted the respondents to reflect the diversity of the population of the United States, the researcher would specifically seek to include participants of various minority groups such as race or religion, based on their proportionality to the total population as mentioned above. A stratified survey could thus claim to be more representative of the US population than a survey of simple random sampling or systematic sampling.

Similarly, if population density varies greatly within a region, stratified...