Data are usually collected through interview surveys with respondents in the panel, with other informants (such as parents, doctors), with their spouses and other members of their household. With the respondent's permission, data from administrative records may be added, such as information from educational or medical records, which are usually more precise than the respondent's recollection. A panel element is sometimes added to regular cross-sectional surveys, and rotating sample designs are a hybrid between panel study and regular survey.
Because they yield longitudinal data, panel studies offer possibilities for examining the relationships between individual life-histories, cohort effects, and period effects due to social change. A number of specialized techniques have therefore been developed for analysing these data (see, for example, J. S. Coleman , Longitudinal Data Analysis, 1982
). Nick Buck et al. ( eds.) , Changing Households (1994)
, is a good example of the range of substantive issues that can most usefully be addressed using panel data—in this case those from the British Household Panel Study. Topics include, for example, changes in household composition, patterns of residential mobility, and stability in voting intentions over time. This volume also contains a useful overview of the methodological problems involved in conducting panel surveys.
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