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.

civil registers, databases, demographic methods, family history, family reconstitutions, family reconstruction, historical demography, life course, microdata, population registers,
Population Studies
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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