Statistisk sentralbyrå Oslo 23 august 2006. The right to a past Use versus misuse of nominative, historical population data. Gunnar Thorvaldsen Norwegian Historical Data Centre.
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Statistisk sentralbyrå Oslo 23 august 2006
The right to a past
Use versus misuse of nominative, historical population data
Norwegian Historical Data Centre
The community history From Sami
Society to Norwegian Periphery
was commisioned by Kvænangen
municipality who denied publishing
due to its strong ethnic perspective.
Genealogic or cultural ethnic markers can be found
in Norwegian censuses from 1845 to 1950
Male census Censuses
1660s 1801 1865, 1875, 1890, 1900. 1907(1910, 1920, 1930, 1946, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990. 2001
Church records (forms)Farm tax lists
Andebu 1623 1812)1832, 1886
Male 1660-, 1701
Numeric 1769, 1815-1855
Nominative, public 1801, 1865, 1875, (1885), 1890, 1900
Nominative, restricted 1910-1950
Nominative, restricted, digital 1960-1990
The Finnish Danger
“Some time after the city census had been passed in government, however, a supplementary resolution was passed to carry out a census in [Eastern Finnmark]. On behalf of trusted persons in Finnmark, infantry captain Aksel Magnus had contacted the Central [Statistical] Bureau in order to take a census also in the rural districts of the province. The Central Bureau told him to contact the Ministry, so that a resolution might be passed and funded. Magnus at the time was an eager supporter of tough norwegianizing in the north. He worked diligently to stop what he perceived to be a Finno-Russian threat, especially the Finnish immigrants. ‘The Sami Nation is dying’, he wrote in a newspaper in 1889, ‘not before long their existence will be historic’.”
Einar Lie, Faktisk talt, The History of Statistics in Norway, Oslo 2001, p 142f.
The Fins were feared in military and official circles due to Finland being part
of the Russian Empire. During the demographic crisis in Finland in 1868 it was
suggested to mobilize troops against hungry Fins migrating to Finnmark.
“Det er neppe tvil om at den store folketellingen som ble gjennomført i Sovjetunionen våren 1939 hadde klare politiske undertoner. På hele Kolahalvøya ble hver eneste persons etniske tilhørighet gransket og notert. ... Offisielt var jo Sovjetunionen et multietnisk samfunn der alle nasjoner var likestilt. Men det skulle snart vise seg at det å stå oppført som norsk eller finsk avgjorde om du fikk bli på hjemplassen eller ikke.”Morten Jentoft, De som dro østover. Kola-nordmennenes historie. Gyldendal, Oslo 2001, side 152ff.Ref: The state county archive in Murmansk, fond 164, case 250; oral sources.
Census microdata – an alternative for researchers. Anonymized samples from the most recent censuses.
Integrated with constructed variables
With further contributions by:
Sören Edvinsson and Johnny Carlsson (Sweden)
Marianne Jarnæs Erikstad (Norway)
Jean Pierre Pélissier and Daniele Rébaudo (France)
Michel de Sève (Canada)
Bart Van de Putte and Koen Matthijs (Belgium
Available modern census microdata with low density samples:
Future additions: Hungary, Spain, IPUMS Latin America
Other countries pending
Strict confidentiality rules with registered users
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series - International
The writing of the History of Immigration to Norway has shown
that our society is not nearly as homogeous as many like to think.
Survival in days of breast-fed and artificially fed
infants in a fishing village in Iceland 1915-1925
Displaying marriage partners by place of birth in the 1960 census for Norway shows
the homogeniety of Norwegian society.
Genealogists and some voters need census
data to establish their identity. When their
needs cannot be met due to restrictions,
researchers have a hard time financing
The Law of Statistics
§2-6.Offentliggjøring av opplysninger.
Opplysninger hentet inn etter fastsatt opplysningsplikt, eller som er gitt frivillig, skal ikke i noe fall offentliggjøres slik at de kan føres tilbake til oppgavegiver eller annen identifiserbar enkelt- person til skade for denne, eller til urimelig skade når det gjelder selskaper med begrenset ansvar, kommandittselskaper og andre sammenslutninger, stiftelser og offentlige organer og virksomheter.
The law of statistics asserting that in order to avoid harm idenfiable information may not
be made public during the first 100 years. While relevant for modern data, no harm has
been reported when censuses from 1900 and earlier were released after 60 years.
1. small sample size
2. limited geographical detail
3. top and bottom coding of unique categories
4. signed non-disclosure agreement
5. prohibit redistribution of datasets to third parties
6. prohibit attempts to identify individuals or the making any claim to that effect
7. require users to provide copies of publications
8. Age (constructed, where necessary)
9. Never identify date of birth
10. Never identify place of birth
11. Migration: timing and place not identified in detail
12. Place of residence identified by major civil division (pop>60k, 120k, 250k, 1 million--national rule)
13. Sensitivity analysis of variables by national experts
14. Confidentiality assessment by national experts
Concluding dilemma: The data sets which may jeopardize
vulnerable minority groups, can be needed to strengthen
the identity of the same groups. The dilemma can be
solved by applying more flexible access rules for older data sets.