Sampling Rare and Elusive Populations

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Science  20 May 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4855, pp. 991-996
DOI: 10.1126/science.240.4855.991


The sampling of rare and elusive populations is difficult because the costs of locating such populations are substantial and can exceed actual interviewing costs. There are efficient probability methods that have been developed recently that reduce these costs. If the special populations are geographically clustered, efficient sampling involves the rapid location of segments in which no members of the special population are located with the use of Census data, telephone screening, or incomplete lists. Populations that are not geographicaily clustered can be located by network sampling and use of large previously gathered samples. Characteristics of mobile populations such as the homeless can be estimated by capture-recapture methods.