The potential to identify South Asians using a computerised algorithm to classify names

Popul Trends. Autumn 1999;(97):46-9.


Ethnic studies are limited by the lack of information on ethnic origin in data sources. This paper examines a computerised approach to identify South Asians by names. Computerised analysis of names is not an ideal solution, but it helps to solve the methodological difficulty of identifying South Asians, particularly in historical administrative datasets where self-assessed ethnicity is not possible and visual inspection is too time consuming and prone to errors. This approach, though useful, is limited to groups easily distinguishable by name and the collection of information on ethnicity should remain the aim in the long-term.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Child
  • Computers
  • England
  • Ethnicity / classification*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / ethnology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Names*
  • Religion
  • Sensitivity and Specificity