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Building a user-friendly front end to a survey using Stata

Dr. John P. Haisken-DeNew ()
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Dr. John P. Haisken-DeNew: RWI Essen, DIW Berlin, IZA Bonn

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: John P. de New

No 9, United Kingdom Stata Users' Group Meetings 2003 from Stata Users Group

Abstract: SOEPMENU is a Stata-based tool intended to ease working with large panel data sets when running retrievals. As the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) has 18 waves and more than 210 files, correct matching of information over time and level (e.g. household v.s. person) can be tedious. Further, the variable naming scheme of the SOEP follows the question order in the particular year's questionnaire, such that without an "item-correspondence", there is no systematic way of knowing the variable name from yea r "t", given one knows the name at time "t-1". Therefore, for simplification, all data sets contents are viewed as collection of "items" in an "item correspondence" and not as "variables". One opens the data files from a drop-down menu system, and the "items" are displayed for selection. Alternatively, one can browse ALL items in a browse page, allowing one to select items to be saved into a "basket". By "collecting" many item s into the basket, one creates a list of items to be pulled out of the data set in the retrieval. Additionally, all SOEP questionnaires have been translated into SMCL pages, with clickable variable names in the questionnaire. At the click of a button, th e retrieval is run, according to the options the user has chosen. Not only is a "wide" file produced, but also a "long" file (in "reshape" terminology). The long file is possible as all wide file variables have been renamed according the "serial number" of the particular item. There is also a checking procedure to examine whether value labels have changed over time. For items that change their contents or definition over time, there is a standardized interface to allow "plugins" to recode old variables, generate new variables etc. Once one has created the wide and long data files, one can browse them interactively with the browse tools provided. As the tool automatically pulls out the appropriate weighting factors, these can be used at the click of a button. The "SOEP project" or the collection of "items" in the "basket", can be saved, reloaded, appended etc. This allows the addition of modulized baskets. All data can be dumped out directly for use in SPSS, SAS (keeping all labels) and Excel. As the S OEP data are bilingual (German and English), once can switch between languages with any input and output file (one can use English labeled input files and automatically produce German labeled retrieval files). SOEPMENU is written for Stata 8.

Date: 2003-03-16
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