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The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) based on the Census of Population and Housing since 1986. The SEIFA indexes are widely used measures of relative socio-economic status at a small area level. The indexes rank and identify areas that are relatively more, or less, disadvantaged. They provide contextual information about the area in which a person lives. Yet, within any area there will be individuals and sub-populations with very different characteristics to the overall population of the area. When we make judgments about individuals, based on the characteristics of the area in which they live, there is potential for error in our conclusions. This potential for error is referred to as the ecological fallacy.
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