Social dynamics in Swiss society : empirical studies based on the swiss household panel
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It is indeed a pleasure to write the preface to a book celebrating 20 years of the “Swiss Household Panel (SHP).” For about 20 years, I was responsible for one of SHP’s twins: the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), which is also a household panel. With each additional comparable household panel, like SHP and SOEP, researchers are able to improve their studies by making international comparisons that advance our understanding of the world. In order to facilitate international comparative analyses, SHP was one of the first Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF) partners. The CNEF – which originated at Syracuse University, later at Cornell University, and now based at the Ohio State University – provides access to harmonized data from a number of panel data studies. These include SHP, the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Study (HILDA), the German SOEP, the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UK HLS), and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) in the USA. Data from the Korea Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS) and the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) are also available. The CNEF continues to expand access to data. Interesting household panel studies or cohort studies are underway in Africa and Asia, including, to name a few, the “Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS),” panel household surveys in Thailand and Vietnam (which are financed by the German Science Foundation, DFG), the “Coping with Shocks in Mongolia Household Panel Survey,” and the World Bank’s “LSMS Panel Surveys.” The fact that the panels in CNEF are comparable is not a lucky accident, but rather an important feature of the worldwide social and behavioral sciences research infrastructure. A concerted effort ensures that these panel studies are comparable in terms of the basic setups and the questionnaires. The one outlier is the oldest study, the PSID, which is less comparable to the other studies. This is a surprise because, without any doubt whatsoever, the PSID was the role model for all household panel studies that followed. However, the newer studies learned from the experience of PSID. Thus, while the PSID only interviews the head of the household, all of the younger studies interview all adult household members.
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