Standard Article

Target Population

  1. Sander Greenland

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/0470011815.b2a03126

Encyclopedia of Biostatistics

Encyclopedia of Biostatistics

How to Cite

Greenland, S. 2005. Target Population. Encyclopedia of Biostatistics. 8.

Author Information

  1. University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


The concept of a target population is an informal one, sometimes defined as “the population about which information is wanted” or the “totality of elements which are under discussion and about which information is desired”. Often, the word “population” refers to this concept; see, for example, Kendall & Stuart or Freedman et al. The word “target” emphasizes, however, that this population is not necessarily the same as the one that we end up sampling. The latter population is sometimes called the sampled population or (in epidemiology) the source population.


  • inference;
  • sampled population;
  • source population;
  • target population