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Environ Plan A. 1984 Jan;16(1):17-31.

Ecological fallacies and the analysis of areal census data.


The author examines problems related to the fact that in many countries, census data are only reported for areal units and not at the individual level. Attention is paid to the question of ecological fallacy problems that arise from this situation. Data from a 10 percent sample of the United Kingdom population and individual census data from Italy are used to illustrate the problem. "It is concluded that ecological fallacy effects are endemic to areal census data, although their magnitude is perhaps not as large as might have been expected. The principal difficulty is that there is at present no way of predicting in advance the degree of severity likely to be associated with particular variables and particular techniques. Finally, a suggestion is made concerning how the potentially serious practical consequences can be reduced."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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