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A Generalized Fellegi-Sunter Framework for Multiple Record Linkage With Application to Homicide Record-Systems

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2006, 00:00 by Mauricio Sadinle, Stephen E. Fienberg

We present a probabilistic method for linking multiple datafiles. This task is not trivial in the absence of unique identifiers for the individuals recorded. This is a common scenario when linking census data to coverage measurement surveys for census coverage evaluation, and in general when multiple record-systems need to be integrated for posterior analysis. Our method generalizes the Fellegi-Sunter theory for linking records from two datafiles and its modern implementations. The multiple record linkage goal is to classify the record K-tuples coming from K datafiles according to the different matching patterns. Our method incorporates the transitivity of agreement in the computation of the data used to model matching probabilities. We use a mixture model to fit matching probabilities via maximum likelihood using the EM algorithm. We present a method to decide the record K-tuples membership to the subsets of matching patterns and we prove its optimality. We apply our method to the integration of three Colombian homicide record systems and we perform a simulation study in order to explore the performance of the method under measurement error and different scenarios. The proposed method works well and opens some directions for future research.


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