Panel studies enable us to monitor people over a long period and measure any changes in them. Data from panel studies is extremely valuable, but there is one major drawback: drop-outs. We are using statistical analyses to investigate why people stop participating in panel studies.
If panel studies constitute a representative reflection of the population, you can use them to measure different changes:
- at individual level (for example: what kind of unemployed people quickly find a new job?)
- at group level, for the population as a whole (for example: is unemployment increasing or decreasing?
Why is drop-out such an issue?
The people who stop participating in a panel study are usually specific groups. In medicine, these are often people with a poorer state of health, and in the social sciences, those who often move house, are young or have less interest in social problems. If increasing numbers of this type of people drop out, we are no longer able to provide good answers as to why change happens using data from these panel studies.