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I have the population data about the spread of animals in country (sheep, goat, cattle etc) by ranches.

Can i use ANOVA to see the difference between the means of animals by ranch type or can annova be only applied to a sample of the population Note: the population distribution is not normal.

Thanks in advance

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From the Wikipedia entry on statistical inference:

Inferential statistical analysis infers properties about a population: this includes testing hypotheses and deriving estimates. The population is assumed to be larger than the observed data set; in other words, the observed data is assumed to be sampled from a larger population.

From PSU online course:

Recall, a statistical inference aims at learning characteristics of the population from a sample; the population characteristics are parameters and sample characteristics are statistics.

If you are truly working with the population, you do not need to do ANOVA. You can compare the calculated means of different groups without any statistical tests because those calculated values are the population means.

It's worth thinking about what your population is. Maybe your data is just sample from a data-generating process (e.g. a snapshot in time) and you want to make inferences about the group means from that data-generating process.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with you and yes I had been doing descriptive statistics on the population parameters $\endgroup$ – Mazen Aug 18 '17 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ My data is a snapshot in time of the whole population, so other than clustering, regression...is there any other statistical model i can use for data insights $\endgroup$ – Mazen Aug 18 '17 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ If the population that you are interested in is animals in country (sheep, goat, cattle etc) by ranches at any given time, then you can consider your data set a sample (a snapshot) from that population and use ANOVA, regression, etc. This assumes the population is stationary over time. $\endgroup$ – Great38 Aug 18 '17 at 15:23

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