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Ecological fallacy can be defined simply as incorrectly inferring the behavior or condition of individual observations based upon aggregated data or information representing a group or a geographical region. These data are often referred to as ecological data, not in the biological sense, but because the data are used to describe the aggregated or overall condition of a region or a community. When the inference on the individuals drawn from the aggregated data is erroneous, the problem is known as ecological fallacy.

This is an important methodological problem among several social science disciplines, including economics, geography, political science, and sociology. These disciplines frequently rely on data collected as individual observations that are aggregated into geographical units of different sizes or scales, such as census blocks, block ...

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