Record linkage in the Cape of Good Hope Panel

Rijpma, Auke ; Cilliers, Jeanne ; Fourie, Johan (2019-02)

CITATION: Rijpma, A., Cilliers, J. & Fourie, J. 2020. Record linkage in the Cape of Good Hope Panel. Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 53(2):112-129. doi:10.1080/01615440.2018.1517030

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In this article, we describe the record linkage procedure to create a panel from Cape Colony census returns, or opgaafrolle, for 1787–1828, a dataset of 42,354 household-level observations. Based on a subset of manually linked records, we first evaluate statistical models and deterministic algorithms to best identify and match households over time. By using household-level characteristics in the linking process and near-annual data, we are able to create high-quality links for 84% of the dataset. We compare basic analyses on the linked panel dataset to the original cross-sectional data, evaluate the feasibility of the strategy when linking to supplementary sources, and discuss the scalability of our approach to the full Cape panel.

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