In this documentation about the "Mannheimer Foundation Panels" of the ZEW the identification of firm foundations and liquidations as well as difficulties occurring in this context are discussed. The ZEW Foundation Panels are based on data provided approximately every six months by CREDITREFORM. CREDITREFORM is the largest German credit rating agency with a comprehensive database of German firms at its disposal. Almost all firms, which are registered in the trade register, enter CREDITREFORM's database. In contrast, the entry probability of unregistered firms depends on the scope of their credit demand and of their business relations with other firms.

The group of firms in the ZEW Foundation Panels with liquidation events that are accompanied by bankruptcy proceedings can be identified with satisfactory precision. Voluntary liquidations often remain unnoticed by CREDITREFORM for a long time and are often reported without many details. Since CREDITREFORM records such liquidation information only in the free flow text written on each firm in the database, the identification of the group of voluntarily closed firms requires diligent and time-consuming analysis of this free flow text.

After several data cleaning procedures were conducted at the ZEW, firm dynamics, especially the time pattern of foundation activities, can be analysed with data from the ZEW Foundation Panels for different kinds of regional and sectoral aggregate. Moreover, the information recorded at different points in time allow for micro-econometric analyses of firm growth and survival. Due to reasons of data protection these information on the firm level can only be used by scientists at the ZEW.