Estudio Socioeconómico de la Comunidad de Parras de La Fuente

por Ashley Gregory y Rebecca Hyke

What is the purpose of conducting a socioeconomic study? Our project is the pretest for a future socioeconomic study of Parras, which will be used as a tool for further analysis to determine what types of appropriate technology are already in use here and the ways in which our program can participate in the education and possibly implementation of these and other technologies.  Through listening to the voices of the community, we hope to share our findings with future program participants to ensure that the citizens’ input will be valued and taken into consideration when deciding upon future projects. In addition, we hope that this and future studies will be a starting point for community dialogue regarding issues such as tourism and natural resource protection.

Where did this study take place? The Universidad Tecnológica de Coahuila served as the central hub for conducting our pretest. Because this is the initial trial for a more comprehensive study, we decided to begin with asking those people who are already directly or indirectly involved with this program.

Why did we choose to initiate a community survey? We decided to work on this project because a vital component of appropriate technology is an understanding of the social, economic, and political context in which we are working. Before we felt comfortable implementing any new technologies in Parras, we agreed that it was essential to have a foundation of knowledge regarding life in Parras. Examining the issues, topics, and concerns of the people of Parras is a vital part of any truly successful  appropriate technoloy program. 

What was the process involved in creating this study? There were multiple stages in the development of this questionnaire packed into less than ten weeks, and each part of the process has provided valuable lessons and experiences. We began by conducting preliminary research on how to conduct a meaningful, effective community survey. We learned early-on that conducting a large-scale community survey not only requires more time than we had, but also calls for an adequate budget and pre-existing  knowledge and/or experience in carrying out such studies. In addition, we needed to take into account cultural factors. For example, in the US, the majority of people have taken numerous surveys in their lifetime, yet in Mexico surveys are not as commonly used as a means to assess public opinion.

In addition to our research on how to properly conduct a survey, we had to research population statistics in order to determine what information is already known. This enabled us to be sure that our findings would be relevant and useful.

This website, ( contains scores of information regarding socioeconomic statistics for the municipality of Parras! 

Next, we held a brainstorming session with our class to gain their insights and hear their opinions as to what they thought we needed to be asking the community. Involving the class was very important in our process because our project is intended to establish a connection between our program and the community. We needed our classmates to be involved because our work is on the behalf of and indirectly representative all of the Parras Summer Program participants.

We began by asking the class “why is a survey of Parras important and/or necessary?” Collectively, the class came up with these reasons for conducting a community survey: public relations, to demonstrate that we care about the community, finding out what we don’t know and what community members don’t know, raising awareness of issues within the community, gaining trust and community buy-in, addressing community needs is an integrated component of AT (appropriate technology), and lastly gaining insight into what assets the community already possesses. Next, we asked the class to break up into groups of 4 or 5 and brainstorm topics/issues which must/should be addressed in order to truly determine community needs. We wanted our classmates to think about what types of questions they would ask if they were in our position. What came out of this class brainstorm was a long list of topics ranging from library cards to heating concerns, as well as some very specific questions concerning, for example, food waste. As our research progressed and we gathered more information about Parras, we were able to sift through the topics raised by the class and determine which issues we should address in our pre-test.

Through the help of numerous people, we started formulating concrete questions. After several drafts, we began the translation process. This was a crucial part of our process because a written survey is both conveyed and perceived largely based upon its wording.

At each phase of our writing process we consulted at least one person to gain their input and opinions. This enabled us to make informed decisions on formatting, style, and content. After multiple revisions, we had final drafts of our cover letter, the pretest, and a questionnaire feedback form ready to undergo the finishing stamp of approval from the Director of the UTC. We then made eighty copies of each component, stuffed the envelopes, and handed them out the following morning. We gave thirty pre-tests to UTC students (our Mexican peers) and two each to the twenty-two U.S. students in the hopes that we would be able to gather the opinions of not only our families but our neighbors, compañeros and acquaintances, too. Respondents had one weekend to fill out the questionnaires and return them to us promptly. By the middle of the following week, we received 74% of the pre-tests.

For the remainder of our time with this project we worked on accurately recording and analyzing our results, and then presenting them in an appealing, easy-to-understand fashion. As you look over the following summary, we would like to stress once again that these findings are a reflection of an incredibly small and biased sample group. Although they are interesting and tell us a lot about our sample population, they are not intented to represent the community of Parras as a whole. Using the statistical formula to determine margin of error, which is one divided by the square root of the number of people in the sample population, we determined that our margin of error is 13% (1 / sq. root of 58). As far as survey science goes, this percentage is way too big of a number to make any  positive extrapolations. Generally, for these types of studies, the desired margin of error is only around 5%. Nonetheless, the results revealed from this pretest can lead us in the right direction.

Check out the survey!

Our cover letter.

Los Resultados del Estudio Socioeconómico de la Comunidad de Parras:

1) Sexo:  Femenino- 64.29%        Masculino- 35.71%

     Información sobre la población en el municipio de Parras para el año 2000:

                 Femenino- 49.3 %         Masculino- 50.7%

Culturally, the Mexican family structure tends to be more matricentric than the model in the United States. The mother is the central hub of many family activities and responsibilities.  As a result, this incongruence in proportion relating to sex/gender is not a surprise, as the mothers would probably be the most likely candidates in the family for filling out our questionnaire.

2) Edad:          menos de 18=    1.85%           

                                   18-24=  20.37%

            25-34= 11.11%          

            35-49= 29.63%

            50-64= 35.19%           

        65 o más  1.85%

                          No respuesta=    6.9%

The age group results are a reflection of the fact that when we distributed these pretests, we specified that they should be answered by the head(s) of the household. Despite this fact, the numbers also show that many students ended up filling out the pretest themselves. Establishing a larger sample size for the actual survey will more accurately distribute the range and percentages of the ages of respondents.

3) Promedio numero de personas en cada vivienda: 3.6 personas 

       Parras censo: 4 personas

These results tell us that our pretest population closely reflects the total population of Parras when it comes to average number of people in each household. Although our sample size was small, the average number of people living in each home is still around four.

4) Numero de ingresos por cada casa:

No Respuesta                  6.90%

The majority of respondents reported two household incomes, with the next largest group being one income. Many of the respondents have children attending university and/or are in an economic position which permits them to house American students. Therefore, these results are biased based on our sample group. Income, in this case, could be a misleading term, as it is unclear whether we are asking income per person or income per job. 

Error                                 0.00%

Un ingreso                        29.63%

Dos ingresos                    55.56%

Tres ingresos                   9.26%

Cuatro ingresos                5.56%

Cinco o más                     0.00%








5) Medio de transporte utilizado:

           Tipos de Transporte:

Error                          3.45%

Our findings here are yet another illustration of our “muddied” sample group. The majority of our respondents own cars, which is directly correlated to economic status. Our preliminary research revealed that about 50% of people in Parras rely on the bus system for their primary mode of transportation.  

Carro                           51.79%

Camión                       1.79%

Bicicleta                      14.29%

Caminando                   32.14%

Animal                           0.00%

Otro                              0.00%


6) Medio Ambiente:   Los Factores Ambientales Basado en el Nivel de Preocupación:

Calidad del Aire

Conservación de áreas naturales

Contaminación del agua

Cambios Climáticos
















































According to this table, when it comes to air quality, over half of our respondents are not very concerned, while 20% are very concerned. Conservation of natural areas displays a fairly even distribution, with the most people answering that they are very worried. Contamination of water is an issue of concern for about a third of the respondents, while around 43% leaned toward a level of very low preoccupation. Climate Change is the topic of all those mentioned with the least concern, while garbage is most heavily weighted towards a high level of preoccupation.

It should be noted that we did not specify a geographic context for considering these factors, which definitely influenced responses. In formulating this question, we were looking for a general idea of whether or not people are concerned about these environmental factors and did not feel it was necessary to be too specific. However, some feedback indicated that there was confusion about what to take into consideration when responding to this question. For example, a person may not be concerned about the local quality of air, but may be concerned about air quality on a global level.  

These results could easily have been biased by our own influence. It is widely known in Parras that we are studying technology which is “good for the environment”, and some people may have felt obligated to answer differently than they may have had this fact not been so commonly known. Furthermore, our predetermined categories reflect an ethnocentric assumption that preoccupations in Parras regarding the environment will be the same as ours.

7) Agua:

54 personas piensan que hay suficiente agua en Parras para satisfacer las necesidades de los     ciudadanos.

3 personas piensan que no hay suficiente agua en Parras para satisfacer las necesidades de los ciudadanos.

Water seems abundant in Parras de la Fuente (“fuente” literally means fountain). With above ground aqueducts and multiple swimming tanks, fresh water is visible all over the city, accompanied by lush gardens, lawns, and orchards. Becuase of this, it is no surprise that the majority of respondents believe there is a sufficient amount of water to satisfy their needs.


 Consumo Humano: 20   Uso Domestico: 27   Industrial: 6   Agrícola/ Riego de Huertas: 28    Otro: 5

The above graph is the result of an open-ended question and therefore reflects our interpretations in categorization. For example, some answers said “irrigation of orchards” while others specified what type of orchard, such as “nut trees or fruit trees”. Based on the responses, it is difficult to determine the exact distinction between multiple categories, such as “human consumption” and “domestic use” (one domestic use of water could be cooking/preparing beverages for human consumption).

8) Agua Negra: Las personas piensan que las aguas negras en Parras son utilizadas en:        

Over half of respondents told us that black water in Parras is used for irrigation, including irrigation of orchards, fruit trees, and land parcels. Eleven out of fifty eight respondents do not know how black water is used, while four people answered it is used for “nothing” and six replied that it is “waste”. Three people believe that black water is “treated” and two answered that it is “not treated”. Once again, these results are taken from our interpretation of an open-ended question which asked “how is black water used in this locality?” We combined several similar answers, such as all of those containing the word “irrigation”.

As we discovered in our water treatment investigation, much of the black water in Parras is used for irrigation of orchards, where direct contact with food for human consuption is not an issue. We also found that one of the local denim factories does some of its own treatment, but once the waste water exceeds the maximum capacity of the facility, the surplus is released with minimum treatment into the canal system. At these times, we were told that the farmers do not use the water to irrigate their trees because it is visibly contaminated with chemicals. Interestingly enough, several people in Parras informed us that there is municipal water treatment plant which takes care of the waste water. However, this plant has yet to exist and the only treatment available is that done by the factories themselves.

Water is a very important issue in Parras. In fact, recently, the water company has instated a new fine for those who use too much water, accompanied by a campaign to educate the public surrounding the importance and necessity of water conservation. Many of our contacts within this town have expressed interest in debating what kind of water treatment is appropriate for Parras and want to work further with our AT program to develop a possible project.

9) Alimentación: Los usos de los desperdicios de comida:

The above pie-chart demonstrates that when it comes to food waste, the most frequent use for it is feeding it to animals (pets, farm animals, etc.). However, this question does not account for what percentage of food is actually wasted. Several respondents marked multiple answers, like feeding animals and throwing it away.  The lack of answers for the compost category suggests that although some people make compost, with our sample group, it is not a widely utilized form of food disposal. We would be interested to see if an appropriate technology project dealing with compost education would have an impact on how this question is answered in the future.

10) Salud: Porcentaje de personas que tienen acceso a servicios médicos cuando los necesitan:

96.55% tienen acceso cuando los necesitan     3.45% no tienen acceso cuando los necesitan

According to our preliminary research, citizens of Mexico have access to a variety of different kinds of healthcare through the government; thus, these results were not surprising. Although we were aware of these programs, we wanted to hear the voices of Parrenses as to whether or not they felt these services were accessible.

11) Educación: El nivel más alto de educación en cada casa:  

% Error


% Primaria


% Secundaria


% Bachillerato


% Profesional


% Otro


The majority of our respondents reported the highest level of education in their household to be “professional”, which means training for a specific professional career. Once again, these results are a reflection of our small sample group of which many people who received this survey are students at a university for professional training.

For this question, we took the categories from the census information because we were unfamiliar with the ways in which levels of education are classified in Mexico. We believe that the high percentage of error is due to our own uncertainty as well as the unclear question wording. We should have made it clearer that we were asking for the highest level of education out of all those in the household and not for each person, since many people provided more than one answer.

12) De las personas con hijos asistiendo a la escuela en Parras, 80% piensan que sus hijos están aprendiendo las habilidades necesarias para obtener empleo en la fuerza laboral; 20% piensan que sus hijos están más o menos aprendiendo las habilidades necesarias para la fuerza laboral.

The way in which this question was formatted, as a follow-up question, excluded the opinion of those who do not currently have children attending school in Parras. Several respondents who answered “no” to the previous question (whether or not they have kids attending school in Parras) also wanted to answer the second question regarding whether or not children are learning the skills necessary to obtain work in Parras. Yet, we were unable to calculate these opinions because they were erroneous in the context of the pretest sequence. Thus, we assumed that those folks who did not have children currently attending school did not have an opinion on the children in their community and this was definitely not the case.

13) Empleo: Porcentaje de las personas que tiene:

       Empleo actualmente:      74.14%      No empleo actualmente: 25.86%

The wording of this question could be improved upon because even though our results provide us with a basic finding, we cannot extrapolate too much as to what these findings mean. Specifically, for those who do not have existing employment, we have no idea how many of these people would like to have employment, are in need of employment, have looked for employment, or for how long they have been without employment. Because of the generality of this question, we cannot absolutely link the unemployment percentage to a shortage in employment, even though we know that a shortage exists (based upon the final questions in our study and our conversations with the citizens of Parras).

De las personas con empleo actualmente, los siguientes porcentajes de personas sienten que su empleo es:

Muy Seguro: 26.83%          Seguro: 41.46%          Más o menos: 29.27%

                        Inseguro: 2.44%                        Muy Inseguro: 0%

Of those who answered “yes” to whether or not they are employed, we wanted to know how secure these respondents feel their jobs are. The majority of people stated they feel “secure” in their job, while the next most popular response is “so, so” followed by “very secure”. The smallest percentage of respondents feel their job is “insecure”.

We asked this question because an important component of employment is security, the assurance that one’s job will exist the following day. We were inspired to ask this question with our visits to the local “fábricas”.  Factory work is prevalent in Parras, and as the “race to the bottom” in wages due to the globalization of the market economy continues to relocate jobs to countries with lower wages and fewer restrictions on businesses, the citizens of Parras are directly impacted. We now have an emotional and intellectual interest in the future of this community, and wanted to determine exactly how grave the situation is and how it affects the socioeconomic status and stability of Parras.


14) Finanzas:             Clasificación de los gastos mensuales:







% No Respuesta






% Errores






El gasto menor   1
























El gasto mayor   5






Where money is spent is an important gauge as to the needs of a community. Money spent on food received the most number five ratings out of all of the categories, receiving 58.62% of responses. The majority of our respondents rated housing with a one or failed to even mark a response for this category, suggesting that the bulk of people do not spend much money on housing or do not even consider it an expense. Services, such as gas and water bills, are where another chunk of the expenses are used, as 48.21% gave it a five rating. Transportation is also another low expense for our respondents. Entertainment received the majority of ratings in the number two category indicating that it is an expense but not a very important one.

The overwhelming number of greatest expense responses in the food category reflects the importance of having access to reasonably-priced food. Providing food and services for the average family on the minimum-wage in Parras is difficult, even if paying for housing is not a great concern for most people.

Otros gastos mensuales significativos:

These other expenses the answers to an open-ended question asking respondents if there are any other significant expenses other than those which we provided. Spending on education is an expense we could have included in the rating scale question because several people provided this as an added expense.

15) Compras: Los factores que toman en cuenta las personas cuando van de compras:






Impacto Ambiental

% No Respuesta






% Errores






Factor Menos Importante 1
























Factor Más Importante 5












According to these responses, quality and price are the two most important factors which people take into account when shopping. The price category overwhelmingly received the five rating, indicating that the majority of people in our sample group see price as a crucial factor in deciding what they buy. The “location” and “environmental impact” categories had higher percentages of no responses than the other provided factors, which suggests that there was some confusion and/or that these factors do not enter one’s mind to begin with.

We asked this question to help us determine what importance community members place on factors regarding consumption patterns. In our experiences with different families here, we have learned that supporting small businesses sometimes takes precedent over factors such as convenience or price. On the other hand, some families prefer to frequent larger enterprises where they are often able to purchase a greater variety of goods. This issue directly relates to topics such as tourism, employment, environment, and community growth. Thus, it is essential for us to understand what it is that people value when it comes to their consumer habits.

16) Energía: El tipo primario de energía que las personas utilizan para los usos siguientes.




Combustible para Coche



% No Respuestas






% Errores






Gas Natural


















Energía Solar












No se usa






For cooking and lighting, all of those who responded use natural gas and electricity, respectively. The overwhelming majority also use electricity for refrigeration. Neither solar energy nor firewood were chosen as responses for any of the given uses, although we know there are sky lights in many of the homes and buildings, as well as fireplaces and earthen ovens. As for heating, the results correspond with the information we found in our primary research: a large percentage of people do not have heating in their homes.

This is a vital question for us to understand as appropriate technology engineers working in Parras because energy is involved in almost every implementation of AT. Furthermore, within our definition of AT, we state that it must be culturally, politically, and geographically appropriate. Thus, the knowledge generated from this question is essential for attempting to implement any new projects in Parras.

17) Tecnología Apropiada:

            30 personas están familiarizadas con el término “tecnología apropiada”.

            21 personas no están familiarizadas con el término “tecnología apropiada”.

            7 personas hicieron errores o no dieron una respuesta.

We formulated this question to access how many people are familiar with the term “appropriate technology” and how many were not. This information tells us that there are more who do have an idea as to what the concept means, yet several are still unfamiliar with it. We should stress that this question is positively slanted due to the fact that at least half of our respondents had direct contact with students of appropriate technology.

    18)   54 personas quieren aprender más sobre tecnología apropiada.

            2 personas no quieren aprender más sobre tecnología apropiada

Once again, this question is very biased because the majority of our respondents were either directly or indirectly involved with our program. Furthermore, personal connection with students may have influenced some people to say that they would like to learn more to humor us and avoid the possibility of our group taking offense.

19) Tipos de tecnología apropiada utilizada en Parras.

1  Adobe      2  Tendedero de ropa      3  Reciclado      4  Cultivo de verduras en el jardín   

5  Árboles de Fruta       6   Lechuguilla  

Not only is this is one of the most fun questions for us, but it allowed us to demonstrate to people how they are already utilizing appropriate technology in their lives. The more common example of AT is a clothesline, followed by having fruit trees and utilizing adobe. Recycling and the cultivation of vegetables in gardens received around ten to fifteen answers, while lechuguilla was the least prevalent answer. The fact that lechuguilla is the least common example utilized is a very interesting finding considering the fact that this area was once known for its lechuguilla cultivation and production.

We predict that enlarging the sample size will dramatically affect these results, especially the number of people who use/live in a house made from adobe. It would also be interesting to ask more specific questions regarding people’s knowledge and opinions of recycling to determine if implementing a community-wide recycling program would be culturally appropriate and/or accepted.

21) Estudiantes Americanos: De las personas que están familiarizadas con el “Programa de Verano en Parras 2005”, ellas piensan que los estudiantes han tenido un impacto:

% No Respuestas


% Errores


Negativo 1




Regular 3




Positivo 5


This is probably the most leading question in our entire pre-test, although it made us feel all warm and fuzzy. We were actually surprised that we received a few “regular” responses, considering the fact that our sample group is predominately people who were already willing to take on housing a student from the US, are somehow affiliated with our group, or have already worked with us. Drastically enlarging the sample size will help to take care of some of this blatant bias but it may also create a larger margin of error since those who are not familiar with the program and its participants will be unable to respond from personal experience. Also, this question is another example of a situation where people may have felt one way but answered differently in order to save-face and avoid making us feel bad. Nonetheless, we were happy to find out that we have left a positive impression with at least forty-six people in Parras!

22) Turismo: Da respuesta a las siguientes expresiones:

Yo apoyo el aumento de turismo en Parras.

    47 personas están de acuerdo      2  neutral       1 no está  en acuerdo       8 no respuestas

El turismo incrementará las oportunidades de empleo en Parras.

    49 personas están de acuerdo      3  neutral        0  no está de acuerdo      6 no respuestas

El turismo tendrá un impacto positivo en los recursos locales en Parras (por ejemplo: suministrador de agua y caminos).

    39 personas están de acuerdo      10  neutral       0 no está de acuerdo     8 no respuestas

El turismo incrementará el nivel de vida de usted y su familia.

    43 personas están de acuerdo      6 neutral         3 no está de acuerdo      6 no respuestas

The majority of respondents support a growth in tourism and believe it will increase employment opportunities, have a positive impact on local resources, as well as increase the overall standard of living. These responses correlate with the current belief in Parras that tourism is a beneficial industry which will have primarily positive effects on the community.

Wording these questions as statements is a reflection of our decision to be “blatantly-loaded” as opposed to “secretly-loaded”, however our plan may have backfired due to the fact that we made them all positively worded statements. In turn, our created statements ended up reinforcing the currently popular, romanticized notion that an increase in tourism is an end-all answer to the current socioeconomic struggles in Parras.  

23) Valores de Comunidad: Participación en algunas organizaciones en la comunidad:

23 personas participan en organizaciones en la comunidad

                  30 personas no participan en organizaciones en la comunidad

                  (No respuesta=  5 personas)

Personas participan en los siguientes ejemplos de organizaciones en Parras:

Our motivation for asking this question was to learn more about the already existing organizations in Parras which provide services for the community. We realized that if we are to conduct a larger-scale survey in the future, it would be necessary to form close allies with respected groups in town. We also wanted a general overview of the level of community participation and activism within our sample group to help us get an idea of what people value and where people chose to donate their time. Our respondents participate in myriad organizations, a number of them highlighted above.

24) Algunas respuestas sobre los deseos de los ciudadanos para el futuro de Parras (some answers regarding the desires of the citizens for the future of Parras):

·  “Que tenga un desarrollo sustentable en equilibrio con la naturaleza y que sea el lugar más seguro del mundo” (Sustainable development in equilibrium with nature as well as a more secure place in the world).

· “Que se abran nuevas fuentes de trabajo para que no haya tanta pobreza y que la gente no emigre a otras ciudades” (That new sources of employment will become available so there is not so much poverty and people do not have to emmigrate to other cities).

We believe this question speaks for itself... 


Our Issues and Suggestions

What are some of the issues which came up during our project process? One of the very first papers which we read about how to conduct a community survey stated that with every question we come up with, it is helpful to ask: “What am I assuming or taking for granted by this question?” Thus, it is in this section that we want to address what we were taking for granted. First, our pre-test lacked sufficient directions. Since surveys are constantly used in the U.S. to gather information on everything from marketing practices to food security, we assumed (based upon our personal experiences) that people would know what to do if a line was provided after a word. 

We needed to be clearer as to whether a respondent should check the space or circle one of the numbers provided. For example, under the questions concerning the environment and energy use, some people were unsure of how to mark their answer. As a result, errors occurred and we lost input from a few respondents. Also, in the tourism section the smiley faces and frowning faces were difficult to understand. Several respondents expressed confusion as to what these symbols meant. For the final version of this survey, we recommend making the directions very obvious to the reader; do not take for granted that someone will know how to fill out a survey. 

Another huge issue in analyzing our results is the obvious bias of our sample group. The majority of our pretests were given to the families or friends of the students from California. Not only does this more narrowly restrict our sample group socially, economically, and geographically, but it also dramatically increased our likelihood of positive feedback regarding people’s experience with the Parras Summer Program and the students involved in it. 

There is also the problem of leading questions and the participants' knowledge of our motivation for conducting this study. Because respondents were informed in our cover letter as to what we are studying and what our focus is for this survey, our clear environmental bias and affiliation with appropriate technology could have easily swayed the responses to multiple questions. For example, many of our questions surrounding environmental impact, such as trash and air quality, may have been different had our respondents not explicitly known our opinion on such subjects.

What comes next? 

For the next survey we recommend using the responses from the open-ended questions of the pretest along with the rest of our findings to continue this investigation. We definitely feel there are some questions which should be included in the survey in order to extrapolate more accurate conclusions, while other questions need to be refined, elaborated upon, or removed. Our hope is that after reading through the summary of our findings, as well as our personal feedback and interpretations, you will be able to make informed choices regarding the evolution of this study. 

For example, the question about where black water goes could now contain the answers given by our first respondents as choices. This way, the ideas expressed by community members are incorporated into the survey instead of the surveyors creating the categories, which leads to bias and excess error. Also, more specific questions may be addressed to follow up on this topic and the possibility of implementing future projects surrounding the issue of water usage. In reference to the matter of transportation, now that we know the majority of our respondents use cars, we can ask more detailed questions regarding this finding such as fuel usage and possible alternatives to petrolium fuel, like biodiesel. Of course, the information gathered in the pretest and preliminary research regarding such factors as energy use, existing local businesses and personal finances would also have to be consulted to conduct a thorough investigation as to the viability and appropriateness of initiating a dialogue.

Finding an Appropriate Sample Size For the Next Stage of This Study

How many surveys need to go out to provide a sufficient sample group? Before we delve into our response to this very important question, we would like to take this opportunity to devulge a few truths: 1) we have absolutely no backgound in statistics; 2) we had the least amount of time remaining to do this part of the project; and 3) we are not entirely positive (only about 70%) that our interpretation of the following formula is completely accurate! This being said, here it goes...

Our required simple sample size (n) will be calculated using a pre-determined population statistics formula for finding the simple random sample. First, we multiply  the squared value of our desired confidence level (t) by the estimated prevalence of a variable of interest (p) times one minus that percentage. Then we divide all of this by the squared value of our chosen margin of error and end up with a preliminary (n) value.

Formula for simple random sample:

                                n  =   t^2   x   p (1 - p)  /   m^2  

So, we are going to use 95% as our confidence level (t) because this is the suggested standard we found in our research. In statistics language, 95% has a standard value of 1.96. For our estimated prevalence of a variable of interest, we will stick to (p) and let the next round of survey workers decide what variable they would like to use. The margin of error (m) will be 5%, as this is a conservative margin  of error value for this type of survey. The value 5% has a standard value of 0.05.

                              n   =   1.96^2 x  p (1 - p) /  0.05^2

                              n   =   3.8416 x  p (1 - p) /  0.0025

Once we come up with the value (n), we will want to increase the sample size by 5% to account for factors such as non-response or recording errors. Finally, we must employ a method of ensuring even distribution of surveys among our simple random sample size. There are countless methods to do this and one of the simplest is to pick a method for classifying the population, such as by neighborhoods, barrios, districts, etc. Once you have determined a number of clusters, you divide your new (n) value by this number, and you will find out how many people must be asked to particpate from each cluster.  

Needless to say, this is an incredibly general starter formula. Our disclaimer is "don't believe us, go do more research and try multiple different methods youself!" Better yet, we recommend taking a class on population statistics before you attempt to conduct this survey on a large-scale, relatively professional level (or at least have a really good friend who is willing to help and has taken as class/has experience in this area!).

Thank you for sticking with us 'til the end!

¡ Muchas gracias a todas los Parrenses que contribuyeron a nuestro éxito¡