Panel data conventionally underpin the analysis of poverty mobility over time. However, such data are not readily available for most developing countries. Far more common are the “snap-shots” of welfare captured by cross-section surveys. This paper proposes a method to construct synthetic panel data from cross sections which can provide point estimates of poverty mobility. In contrast to traditional pseudo-panel methods that require multiple rounds of cross-sectional data to study poverty at the cohort level, the proposed method can be applied to settings with as few as two survey rounds and also permits investigation at the more disaggregated household level. The procedure is implemented using cross-section survey data from several countries, spanning different income levels and geographical regions. Estimates fall within the 95 percent confidence interval— or even one standard error in many cases—of those based on actual panel data. The method is not only restricted to studying poverty mobility but can also accommodate investigation of other welfare outcome dynamics.
Dang, H.; Lanjouw, P. Measuring poverty dynamics with synthetic panels based on cross-sections. The World Bank, Washington DC, USA (2013) 62 pp. [World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6504]