This comment assesses how age, period and cohort (APC) effects are modelled with panel data in the social sciences. It considers variations on a 2-level multilevel model which has been used to show apparent evidence for simultaneous APC effects. We show that such an interpretation is often misleading, and that the formulation and interpretation of these models requires a better understanding of APC effects and the exact collinearity present between them. This interpretation must draw on theory to justify the claims that are made. By comparing two papers which over-interpret such a model, and another that in our view interprets it appropriately, we outline best practice for researchers aiming to use panel datasets to find APC effects, with an understanding that it is impossible for any statistical model to find and separate all three effects.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: May 28, 2013
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