Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, Katherine Eriksson, James J Feigenbaum, Santiago Pérez, 14 February 2020

A number of vital questions in the social sciences, relating to intergenerational mobility or assimilation of migrants for example, require data that follow individuals over time. The recent digitisation of historical population censuses for the US and other countries has increased their availability, but linking such historical data is challenging. This column compares the performance of various linking methods and concludes that automated methods perform no worse on key dimensions than (more expensive) hand linking using standard linking variables.

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