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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2000 Feb;24(1):92-5.

Anonymous linkage of New Zealand mortality and Census data.

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Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand.



The New Zealand Census-Mortality Study (NZCMS) aims to investigate socio-economic mortality gradients in New Zealand, by anonymously linking Census and mortality records.


To describe the record linkage method, and to estimate the magnitude of bias in that linkage by demographic and socio-economic factors.


Anonymous 1991 Census records, and mortality records for decedents aged 0-74 years on Census night and dying in the three-year period 1991-94, were probabilistically linked using Automatch. Bias in the record linkage was determined by comparing the demographic and socio-economic profile of linked mortality records to unlinked mortality records.


31,635 of 41,310 (76.6%) mortality records were linked to one of 3,373,896 Census records. The percentage of mortality records linked to a Census record was lowest for 20-24 year old decedents (49.0%) and highest for 65-69 year old decedents (81.0%). By ethnic group, 63.4%, 57.7%, and 78.6% of Maori, Pacific, and decedents of other ethnic groups, respectively, were linked. Controlling for demographic factors, decedents from the most deprived decile of small areas were 8% less likely to be linked than decedents from the least deprived decile, and male decedents from the lowest occupational class were 6% less likely to be linked than decedents from the highest occupational class.


The proportion and accuracy of mortality records linked was satisfactorily high. Future estimates of the relative risk of mortality by socio-economic status will be modestly under-estimated by 5-10%.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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