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American Journal Of Sociology


The ecological fallacy of relating variables on the group level, when the individual-level relationship is desired, can only be avoided by using individual-level data. This paper gives some conditions for occasions when individual-level data can successfully be recovered from grouped data. Such a recovery is illustrated using data on urban or rural residence and participation or not in the labor force as an example. The conditions are given in terms of the distinction between individual-and group-level effects of one variable on another. Recovering individual data, on the one hand, and the study of individual and group-level effects, on the other hand, epresent two separate areas of thought that have received considerable attention. Here a link is made between the two lines of development to facilitate the recovery of individual-level data. Some consequences of the models for research design and recovery of historical data are explored.


This work is freely available courtesy of University of Chicago Press.