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st: Issues in panel analysis


From   Scott Talkington <talkings@gmu.edu>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   st: Issues in panel analysis
Date   Wed, 12 Apr 2006 09:49:28 -0400

I'm currently writing a research proposal for an analysis of a simple panel dataset with two data points. That is, there's an entry survey and an exit survey. This is the first time I've analyzed this sort of data, and wonder if you folks have any thoughts about what issues might come up other than the obvious. There's considerable variation in the dependent variable with individuals as the unit of analysis (with approximately 10,000 cases), but the primary independent variable of interest is "contextual" or "environmental." That is, it will be aggregated in a way such that about every 100 to 1,000 individuals will have same value for the variable. Most of the other control variables won't be aggregated.

So, does the fact that the independent variable is aggregated raise methodological issues that undermine the benefits of panel data? I imagine that a lot of panel studies must account for these environment variables, but what are the chief pitfalls and how does one adjust for them? Would it be advisable or necessary to conduct a separate analysis at a higher level of aggregation and compare the results? Is there a good reference for this kind of analysis that wouldn't take me a semester to read and digest?
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