Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.2, No.3, 1986. pp. 255277

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Record Linkages for Statistical Purposes: Methodological Issues

In spite of their relative complexity, model-based computer record-linkage systems have many advantages over ad hoc procedures. This article begins with a brief review of the underlying theory and models, developed in the 1950s and '60s, for such record-linkage systems. The authors then identify and discuss key decisions that are necessary in developing a record-linkage system or using an existing system. For each of the three main stages of record linkage – preprocessing, matching, and analysis – current practices and unsolved problems are reviewed. Recommendations for research and development are presented. The article draws in part on papers presented at a May 1985 Workshop on Exact Matching Methodologies, held in Arlington, VA, U.S.A. with participants from the United States and Canada.

Matching; record-linkage theory and models; file standardization; validation; blocking; weights; estimation.

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