Summary: The availability of panel data on the basis of micro data has become an indispensable component of the infrastructure of empirically oriented social scientists and economists. This is also a consequence of the fact that, for a panel survey, the quality of both content and methodological analyses increases with each new wave. Especially the number of events which can be analyzed increases (e.g., social and regional mobility, life-course transitions like changing employment, occupational careers, family events and even death). In the USA, the "Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)" has been running since 1968. In principle it was the prototype for the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), which was started in 1984. However, the SOEP has its own features, e.g. the surveying of all adult household members, which made the SOEP itself a role model for all of the other panel studies which followed over the course of time. Survey data comparable to the SOEP which are easily assessable for researchers exist, for example, in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Russia, Hungary, Switzerland, and since 2001 in Australia.
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