Under the auspices of Academician Cyrus C. Y. Chu at Academic Sinica, the Panel Study of Family Dynamics (PSFD) project was initiated in 1998. The main purpose of this interdisciplinary project is to collect panel survey data on families and to investigate the patterns and changes of families in Chinese societies. From 1998 to 2002, this project was supervised by the Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, and the Office of Survey Research (predecessor of the Center for Survey Research, CSR) was in charge of this project. With the reorganization of Academia Sinica, this project was realigned to the Tsai Yuan-pei Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica. As the Tsai Yuan-pei Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences and Sun Yat-sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy were merged into the Research Center for Humanities and Social Science (RCHSS), this project was then reassigned to RCHSS. Since 2013, after the restructuring of RCHSS, the PSFD project has become a part of the Center for Survey Research (CSR), which is one of the thematic centers of RCHSS. The PSFD project is currently funded by Academia Sinica, and was previously funded by the National Science Council (NSC), Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, and Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences of National Science Council.

The panel data collection of the PSFD project was initiated in 1999 in Taiwan. The birth years of the existing five groups of main respondents are between 1935 and 1991. The first-wave data collection of each group of main respondents was conducted by face-to-face sample survey, with the population being Taiwanese residents who met the birth year requirement. In addition to the main respondents, children of the main respondents have been included in the sample once they reached the age of 16. The follow-up surveys for the main respondents and child respondents have been conducted on regular basis. The initial group of main respondents starting from 1999 has experienced 18 waves of panel survey as of 2020. The number of main respondents and child respondents has accumulated to more than 6,000 in 2020. This database constitutes the longest and largest panel study in Taiwan.

Since 2004, in addition to the survey in Taiwan, we began to collect parallel survey data in southeast China in collaboration with the Institute of Population and Labor Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (IPLE-CASS). The regions of the China study include Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Fujian. The questionnaire used in the China survey is based on the questionnaires used in Taiwan. As of 2019, six waves of follow-up surveys had been completed in China.

The data collected from the survey can be used for interdisciplinary research, such as on families, population, labor, education, health and psychological studies. With panel data from various survey waves, dynamic changes in personal attitudes and behaviors can be effectively analyzed, and the life course perspective on the associations between important life events and their outcomes can be examined in detail. As both the main respondents and their children are contained in the sample of Taiwan, it is possible to analyze multi-generational issues, such as parent-child relationships and intergenerational transmissions by combining the corresponding data. Furthermore, the questionnaires contain abundant information about the respondents’ family members, including their spouses, parents, parents-in-law, siblings, and children. For each family member, information on demographic characteristics and interaction relationships with the respondent have been collected.

As to the parallel survey data collected in southeastern China, these data can be studied on their own or analyzed jointly with the data collected in Taiwan to conduct comparative studies. Though Taiwan and southeastern China share similar geographical, cultural and economic backgrounds, they have experienced diverse institutional and socioeconomic changes. This makes the cross-regional comparisons particularly important and valuable.