Task: Population Reconstruction

Population reconstruction are methods used by historians and demographers to reconstruct (historical) populations based on records from registries (such as birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial records) or national census data collections.

Using record linkage techniques, the objective of population reconstruction is to link all records that refer to the same individual over long periods of time to create family trees or pedigrees for a whole population.

Compared to traditional linking of two databases, population reconstruction is challenged by the quality of historical data, changes over time of the individuals to be linked (their names, addresses and occupations, for example), the lack of ground truth data, as well as immigration and emmigration of people into and out of the area covered by a data collection.

Reconstructed populations allow historians and demographers to analyse patterns of family formation, fertility, mortality, and migration, and of consequent trends such as population growth.

Further reading:

Population Reconstruction, G Bloothooft, P Christen, K Mandemakers and M Schraagen, 2015

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