In July 2007, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) requested that the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) develop recommendations on improving Germany’s scientific infrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Before the publication of the responsible working group’s report, as a first step, the German Council of Science and Humanities called upon its evaluation committee to conduct an appraisal of the current status and future prospects of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). This Panel is an integral part of Germany’s scientific infrastructure. Accordingly, over the course of 2009, the German Council of Science and Humanities evaluated the SOEP. This assessment, which was released in November 2009 as a report containing recommendations (see http://www.wissenschaftsrat.de/texte/9503-09.pdf), was partly based on an international comparison of household panel studies. The German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD) believes that the overview of these international household panel studies produced by the German Council of Science and Humanities is of such a high standard that it is deserving of being published as a document in itself. The RatSWD is thus delighted that the German Council of Science and Humanities has agreed to allow publication of this overview as part of the RatSWD Working Paper Series.