International comparisons

Understanding Society is part of a world-wide group of household panel surveys. Researchers interested in comparing international data can use CNEF files to find comparable variables across surveys.  


The Cross National Equivalent File (CNEF) is prepared by the Department of Human Sciences at the Ohio State University and contains the equivalently defined variables for Understanding Society, the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), the Korea Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS) (new this year), the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) (new this year), the Swiss Household Panel (SHP), the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), and the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). 

These cross national data are designed to allow cross national researchers not experienced in panel data analysis to access a simplified version of these panels, while providing experienced panel data users with guidelines for formulating equivalent variables across countries. Most importantly, the equivalent file provides a set of constructed variables (for example pre- and post-government income and United States and international household equivalence weights) that are not directly available on the original surveys.

Researchers can apply for CNEF files via the CNEF website. You can read more about the access procedure here

Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)

The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) is the longest running longitudinal household panel survey in the world. Based at the University of Michigan, the study began in 1968 with a nationally representative sample of over 18,000 individuals living in 5,000 families in the United States. Information on these individuals and their descendants has been collected continuously, including data covering employment, income, wealth, expenditures, health, marriage, childbearing, child development, philanthropy, education, and numerous other topics. 

Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey is a household-based panel study that collects valuable information about economic and personal well-being, labour market dynamics and family life. It aims to tell the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Based at the University of Melbourne, HILDA follows the lives of more than 17,000 Australians each year and participants are followed over the couse of their lifetime. 

Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)

The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) was founded in 1984. It surveys thousands of households across Germany from an intergenerational life-course perspective on their economic and social circumstances, behaviour, subjective well-being, and their attitudes and preferences. Every year, approximately 30,000 people in 15,000 households are interviewed for the SOEP study. The SOEP based at DIW Berlin. Studies based on SOEP data examine diverse aspects of societal change. 

Swiss Household Panel

The Swiss Household Panel is led by FORS, the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences. The survey covers a broad range of topics and approaches in the social sciences. Data collection started in 1999 with a sample of 5’074 households containing 12’931 household members. In 2004 a second sample of 2’538 households with a total of 6’569 household members was added; and since 2013 the SHP contains a third sample of 4’093 households with 9’945 individuals. 

Korean Labour and Income Panel Study (KLIPS)

KLIPS (Korean Labor & Income Panel Study) is a longitudinal survey of the labor market / income activities of households and individuals residing in urban areas. KLIPS was launched by the Korea Labor Institute in 1998. The KLIPS sample is an equal probability sample of households from 7 metropolitan cities and urban areas in 8 provinces (excluding Cheju Island) and was designed to interview 5000 households and their members (aged 15 and over, excluding people in military service or facility residents).

Japan (Keio) Household Panel Survey (JHPS/KHPS)

The Keio Household Panel Survey (KHPS) started in 2004 and follows 4,000 households and 7,000 individuals nationwide. An additional survey on a cohort of about 1,400 households and 2,500 individuals was initiated from 2007.  The survey covers a wide range of topics such as employment behaviour, poverty trends, and the status of inter-household transfer of real assets. 

China Family Panel Studies (CFPS)

China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) is a nationally representative, annual longitudinal survey of Chinese communities, families, and individuals launched in 2010 by the Institute of Social Science Survey of Peking University, China. The CFPS is designed to collect individual-, family-, and community-level longitudinal data in contemporary China. The studies focus on the economic, as well as the non-economic, wellbeing of the Chinese population, with a wealth of information covering such topics as economic activities, education outcomes, family dynamics and relationships, migration, and health.

National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS)

The National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) is the first national household panel study in South Africa. It is implemented by Statistics South Africa. The study began in 2008 with a nationally representative sample of over 28,000 individuals in 7,300 households across the country. The survey continues to be repeated with these same household members every two years. NIDS examines the livelihoods of individuals and households over time. It also provides information about how households cope with positive or negative shocks, such as a death in the family or an unemployed relative obtaining a job. Other themes include changes in poverty and well-being; household composition and structure; fertility and mortality; migration; labour market participation and economic activity; human capital formation, health and education; vulnerability and social capital.