It remains unknown how different types of sources affect the reconstruction of life courses and families in large-scale databases increasingly common in demographic research. Here, we compare family and life-course reconstructions for 495 individuals simultaneously present in two well-known Dutch data sets: LINKS, based on the Zeeland province’s full-population vital event registration data (passive registration), and the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN), based on a national sample of birth certificates, with follow-up of individuals in population registers (active registration). We compare indicators of fertility, marriage, mortality, and occupational status, and conclude that reconstructions in the HSN and LINKS reflect each other well: LINKS provides more complete information on siblings and parents, whereas the HSN provides more complete life-course information. We conclude that life-course and family reconstructions based on linked passive registration of individuals constitute a reliable alternative to reconstructions based on active registration, if case selection is carefully considered.

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Keywords civil registers, databases, demographic methods, family history, family reconstitutions, family reconstruction, historical demography, life course, microdata, population registers
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2020.1718186, hdl.handle.net/1765/125037
Journal Population Studies
Citation
van den Berg, N. (Niels), van Dijk, I.K. (Ingrid K.), Mourits, R.J. (Rick J.), Slagboom, P.E, Janssens, A.A.P.O. (Angelique A. P. O.), & Mandemakers, C.A. (2020). Families in comparison: An individual-level comparison of life-course and family reconstructions between population and vital event registers. Population Studies. doi:10.1080/00324728.2020.1718186