The Panel Study of Family Dynamics (PSFD) project originates from the belief that the types, structures, and patterns of interaction of families in Chinese societies are more complicated than those in Western societies. Correspondently, the theoretical models embodied in the values and practices of Chinese families should be more complicated than those built up from Western ones. The PSFD project aims to develop a research agenda which is both consistent with the local observations and endorsed by the mainstream of social scientists. It is intended to examine whether existing theories of the family can be applied to Chinese society. In the other hand, based on the findings from PSFD, new theoretical frameworks different from Western ones are expected to be discovered and abstracted.

Beginning in 1999, under the leadership of Academician Cyrus C. Y. Chu at Academic Sinica, researchers from psychology, sociology, economics, and survey methodology have participated in the project. These have included Ying-Hwa Chang, Ruey-Ling Chu, Su-Ling Tsai, Kamhon Kan, Ruoh-Rong Yu, Wen-Jen Tsay, and Jui-Chung Allen Li from Academia Sinica, and researchers outside of Academia Sinica, such as Hung-Jen Wang (Department of Economics, National Taiwan University), Pao-Chih Cheng (Department of Economics, National Central University), and Feng-Bin Chang (Department of Sociology, National Chengchi University). In order to broaden the research scope, world-renowned scholars have been invited as advisors to provide suggestions on sample and questionnaire design. These have included Gary Becker (Chicago), Angus Deaton (Princeton), Robert Hauser (Wisconsin), Cheng Hsiao (USC), Ronald Lee (Berkeley), William Parish (Chicago), George Tiao (Chicago), James Vaupel (Max Planck), Arthur Wolf (Stanford) and so forth.

The main targeted respondents of the PSFD are the adult population in Chinese families, covering different birth cohorts. The data collection started from Taiwan, then extended to the southeast coastal region of China. In the Taiwan survey, children of the main respondents were added into the sample. To foster data usage, a survey dataset is released to researchers within and outside Taiwan after checking and editing.

Since the project initiated in the year of 1999, fourteen years of survey data have been accumulated. From these panel data, economic, social, psychological, and institutional factors of Chinese families can be researched, either in comparative context or from a longitudinal perspective.