The Longitudinal Internet studies for the Social Sciences (LISS) panel was started in 2007 as one of five large research infrastructures funded by the Dutch government through the NWO BIG program. It was the central element of the Advanced Multi-Disciplinary Facility for Measurement and Experimentation in the Social Sciences (MESS) project. The LISS panel is an innovative data collection facility intended to boost and integrate research across various disciplines, such as social sciences, life sciences, and behavioral sciences.
The LISS panel consists of about 5,000 Dutch households, comprising of 8,000 individuals. The recruitment of households is based on a probability sample drawn by Statistics Netherlands from population registers. The panel is representative of the Dutch speaking population in the Netherlands aged 16 years and older.
Households without a computer and Internet access are given a computer and broadband Internet access. Panel members answer approximately 30 minutes of online questions every month.
The average household attrition rate has been about 10% per year. Refreshment samples are added to correct for attrition about every two years. As with the initial recruitment, the refreshment samples are drawn from population registers by Statistics Netherlands.
Key elements of the facility are:
(1) longitudinal core questionnaires and experimental modules proposed by researchers from all over the world. The core questionnaires, designed with assistance from international experts in the relevant fields, contain questions on topics such as health, work, income, education, religion, political opinion, values, norms, and personality. Designed to follow changes over the life course of individuals and households, it is repeated annually. Researchers who collect new data using the LISS panel have the opportunity to link their data with the rich data of all other studies conducted with the LISS panel enabling cost efficient research.
(2) innovative data collection. Besides traditional questionnaires, the facility accommodates innovative ways of asking survey questions, e.g., exploiting visual tools on the screen or collecting data in other ways than through survey questions. This includes various new communication and measurement devices like smartphones with GPS, as well as devices to measure biomarkers such as weight, bioelectrical impedance, physical activity levels, and blood pressure. These tools allow for much more accurate and cost-effective measurement and experimentation in large representative samples than was possible in the past, leading to richer and better data on many domains of people’s lives.
(3) linking with administrative data. Administrative data on, for example, income, assets, and pensions archived at Statistics Netherlands can be linked with LISS panel data. Statistics Netherlands provides a remote access facility through which the linked data can be used.
Powerful elements of the LISS panel are its open access and its population representativeness, providing an environment for cross-disciplinary studies and experiments on a wide array of topics and using advanced measurement devices. The Dutch society is currently experiencing a number of significant trends, with a host of attendant challenges, such as an aging population, health disparities, immigrant population, financial volatility, and changing work patterns. The infrastructure plays an important role in addressing these challenges. Sound policy that will positively shape the future of the Netherlands and its citizens will depend on high-quality research in the social and life sciences that can inform decision making, both in government and in industry.
Respondents have been followed over time, and rich background information on many aspects of their lives is collected and updated each year and made available free of charge when conducting new studies or experiments.