Linking Public Issues With Private Troubles: Panel studies in Developing Countries
- Date: 01 Jan 2002
- Series: Working Paper 5A
- Author: Trudy Harpham, Sharon Huttly, Ian Wilson & Thea de Wet
- Download the file ( English, 354 KB, PDF document )
Abstract: In the developed world the importance of evidence-based policy is increasingly recognised. Panel studies – a long-term study design where a cross-sectional sample of units is selected and surveyed at regular intervals – are being used to gather information about the same people or communities over a number of years. Panel studies distinguish between transitory and persistent states and help explain relationships between variables, such as health, age, and education. They are, however, complex and costly to undertake.
A growing number of developing countries are now implementing or considering starting panel studies. This paper identifies challenges that arise in panel studies and shows possible ways to address them when resources are scarce. It discusses how to develop a conceptual framework which links macro and micro contexts; cost-effective methods of sampling; how to track individuals and the importance of ethics and data management and analysis. Panel studies require long-term funding and a stable institutional environment. Policy-makers must realise that in its early stages a panel study will not yield results. Insights are derived only after the study has been going for several years.
Keywords: evidence-based policy, survey methodology, macro level, micro level, sampling, tracking individuals, ethics, panel study