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census tract

  A small areal unit used in collecting and reporting census data. The first tracts were defined by the US Bureau of the Census in 1920 to approximate natural areas or neighbourhoods wherever possible, thereby providing valuable data for analysing city district characteristics (see social area analysis). Many census authorities report data for similar small areas (the UK term is enumeration district) but they are generally constructed on logistical grounds (ease of administration) rather than to meet analytical purposes. (RJJ)

Suggested Reading Openshaw, S., ed., 1992: A census users\' handbook, 2nd edition. London: Longman.



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