Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Lund Papers in Economic History,
Lund University, Department of Economic History

No 172: Record Linkage in the Cape of Good Hope Panel

Auke Rijpma , Jeanne Cilliers () and Johan Fourie
Additional contact information
Auke Rijpma: Utrecht University
Jeanne Cilliers: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Johan Fourie: Stellenbosch University

Abstract: In this paper 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 percent 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.

Keywords: census; machine learning; micro-data; record linkage; panel data; South Africa

JEL-codes: C81; N01

49 pages, February 28, 2018

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