The data made available in the proposed data sets will serve numerous research projects in the
social sciences and history, especially social and economic history. This can be substantiated
from present practice, through an international comparison and on the basis of ongoing and
proposed research projects.
Present practice applies in the first place to the census data, most of which are already
available in printed form. These are used intensively in historical and social research. This holds
also true for the Population Registers on which the HSN dataset is based. Both will be used to
an even greater length when they are readily available in digital form.
Most nations publish some form of census and have some form of population registration.
The international community of scholars in the social sciences and history uses these data to
test its hypotheses and compare research results internationally. This is done mostly on the
basis of published censuses. In some cases the original returns to these censuses are still
available, and individuals can be located in these. More often, researchers have to reconstruct
data on the level of the individual from population registers or marriage acts. It is only in very
few cases that Population Registers allow us to follow the individual life courses through every
move of residence, as is possible with the Dutch Population Registers (Hall, McCaa and
Thorvaldsen 2000). The combination of the two proposed data sets therefore makes it possible
· to compare Dutch data with all levels of data available elsewhere (and thus to execute all
kinds of comparative research, or to replicate research performed elsewhere);
· to assess the error margin of foreign data through simulation, using the richer Dutch data as
bench mark (Adams, Kasakoff and Kok 2001)
· to zoom in from the aggregate data on the national level to comparable data on the micro
level, or to zoom out from individual data on the micro level to gauge their regional or
To sum up: a wealth of social and historical research executed all over the globe shows the
usefulness of the kind of data to be include in the proposed data sets. Moreover, the specific
Dutch situation, where very good data are available both through national censuses and
through a unique Population Register, will make the combined dataset better than any available
The third way to substantiate the usefulness of the data is by presenting ongoing and
proposed research projects. It is impossible - and unnecessary - to do this for the censuses,
which are used in practically every scholarly study of the social and economic developments in
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We therefore focus below especially on those projects,
which can only be executed on the basis of the superior Dutch population registers and other
sources, made available through the HSN.