There are some very exciting things and some very worrying things about this proposal. First, to start with the exciting aspects, the use of panel data by students and researchers in their projects is already taking off at rapid speed now that a number of longitudinal panel surveys are available online. I have met countless academics who have told me recently that they commonly direct their students to panel studies such as the BHPS instead of asking them to design and collect survey data of their own. So we should be confident of their being a good market for a practical guide to using panel data in research. Secondly, Essex University is the THE centre for panel survey expertise in Europe and so the fact that these two authors are part of such a highly-respected team will help sales of the book. But, as flagged above, there is a big ‘BUT’ to this proposal, and that is the authors' dogged determination to support this book with Stata software, rather than with, ideally, SPSS or R. Stata is not widely used in the UK in the social sciences and I fear there could be an impact on sales if stata is too prominent. The authors have agreed to include an appendix on R and will have some coverage of how to use SPSS in analysing panel data on a modest website. Other changes to the chapter structure make the book more accessible and practical, and the agreement to include a range of international panel studies in the guide will help overseas sales. But there is no getting around the fact that the stata dimension is far from helpful. As a consequence I have sought to control costs and I would suggest Indian printing and a very modest royalty offer. It is also I think a Mod in it's market potential, but will have a sales pattern more characteristic of a supp. I want a Guide to Panel Data to support the list, and Essex is the ideal department to supply authors for such a text, but this is not quite the ideal book.

Why Panel Surveys?

Aim

Different types of data are available for analysis. This chapter is a very brief introduction to longitudinal data and discusses their advantages over cross-section data.

What are Longitudinal Data?

Cross-section data consist of one set of observations for each unit of observation. It gives us a snapshot of the population of interest at a particular point in time. In contrast, longitudinal data represent multiple snapshots of the same units of observation. Units of observation may be individuals, households, firms, schools, countries, and so on. While cross-section data may show who is poor, unemployed or in poor health at any point in time, longitudinal data also show whether people move into and out of poverty, how often people are unemployed, whether poor ...

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