When is cross-sectional data better than panel data? That might be a weird and strange question: I personally think panel is the best choice but I still want to know if there is some expectations or unique value of using cross-sectional data. Say, in which situation do you prefer to use cross-sectional data than panel data (assume that both of them are available)?

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    $\begingroup$ Cross-posted at statalist.org/forums/forum/general-stata-discussion/general/… Explaining about cross-posting is good practice in any forum (and not doing so is widely regarded otherwise). $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Jun 29, 2016 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ With panel (longitudinal, repeated-measures) study you are at risk if the sample is not quite representative (biased in some respect). Since it is just one same sample at all time points, the same bias is preserved and has no chance to be corrected by chance. Also, panel respondents can suffer specific unwanted effects (such as carry-over, learning, sequence etc.). $\endgroup$
    – ttnphns
    Jun 29, 2016 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ With cross-sectional data, you cannot have panel attrition - but like @repmat pointed out in his answer, if you are concerned that this might have a major effect on your results, you can always ignore all but one panel wave $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2016 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ttnphns the issue of biasness is on the point. Thanks a lot! $\endgroup$
    – David
    Jun 29, 2016 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


Never, you can always get the same information from a panel as from cross sectional data (just by discarding the additional years). I can think of no situation where I would prefer CS data over panel data. For some questions you might not need panel data, and so there is no point in paying for it - assuming you don't have to pay anything for data my answer is thus never.

If you have to pay a fee, of some sort, then you face a trade-off.


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