The EGC-ISSER Socioeconomic Panel Survey is a collaboration between the Economic Growth Center (EGC) at Yale University, the Global Poverty Research Lab at Northwestern University and the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, Legon. The survey is principally funded and designed by the EGC, Northwestern and ISSER, and carried out and supervised by ISSER.

The main objective is to provide a scientific framework for a wide range of potential studies of the medium- and long-term changes that are taking place during the process of development. The survey is meant to remedy a major constraint on the understanding of development in low-income countries – the absence of detailed, multi-level and long-term scientific data that follows individuals over time and describes both the natural and built environment in which the individuals reside. Most data collection efforts are short-term – carried out at one point in time; and limited in scope – collecting information on only a few aspects of the lives of the persons in the study; and when there are multiple rounds of data collection, individuals who leave the study area are dropped. This means that the most mobile people are not included in existing surveys and studies, perhaps substantially biasing inferences about who benefits from and who bears the cost of the development process. The goal of this project is to follow all individuals, or a random subset, over time using a comprehensive set of survey instruments to shed new light on long-run processes of economic development.

Our strategy is to permit the investigation of unexpected connections between the multiple transformations that occur during the process of economic development. To do so, we have implemented a large-scale, nation-wide panel survey in Ghana that will extend for at least 15 years. The first three survey waves have been completed – conducted in 2009/2010, 2013/2014, and 2017/2018. In 2019, the Ghana Panel Survey was also administered to a sample of participants in Ghana’s rural north who had been classified as “extremely poor” through community-level focus groups. The next wave of the GSPS is now being planned. Data from the first three survey waves are publicly available here.