Comparing retrospective and panel data collection methods to assess labor market dynamics

Ragui A Assaad, Caroline Krafft, Shaimaa Yassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


There is potential for measurement problems in both retrospective and panel microdata. In this paper, we compare results on basic indicators related to labor markets and their dynamics from retrospective and panel survey data in Egypt, in order to determine the conditions under which results are similar or different. Specifically, we (1) assess the consistency of reporting of time-invariant characteristics in different waves of the panel, (2) compare the retrospective and panel data results on past labor market statuses, (3) assess the consistency of estimates of labor market transition rates across two specific dates by comparing panel and retrospective data, (4) assess the consistency of estimates of the level and trends of annual labor market transition rates across retrospective data from different waves of the survey, and (5) assess whether retrospective data can provide accurate trends of labor market aggregates, such as unemployment rates. We find that it is possible to garner useful information on labor market dynamics from retrospective data, but one must be cautious about which information to trust and at what level of detail. We conclude with a discussion of implications for future research as well as future survey design. JEL Classification: C83, C81, J01, J62, J64.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalIZA Journal of Development and Migration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has benefited from funding from the Economic Research Forum, Cairo, Egypt (, under the auspices of a research project entitled Labor Market Dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).


  • Egypt
  • Labor markets
  • Measurement error
  • Panel data
  • Retrospective data
  • Survey data


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