Foto (v.l.n.r): MNStudio/shutterstock.com, photodeti/123RF.com, auremar/123RF.com, Diego Cervo/shutterstock.com

German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)

Research Question

The SOEP started in 1984 as a longitudinal survey of private households in the Federal Republic of Germany. The central aim then and now is to collect representative micro-data to measure stability and change in living conditions by following a micro-economic approach enriched with variables from sociology, psychology and political science . Therefore the central survey instruments are a houeshold questionnaire, which is responded by the head of a household and an individual questionnaire, which each household member is intended to answer.

A rather stable set of core questions is asked every year covering the most essential areas of interest of the SOEP:

  1. population and demography
  2. education, training, and qualification
  3. Family and social network
  4. labor market and occupational dynamics
  5. earnings, income and social security
  6. housing
  7. health
  8. household production
  9. preferences and values
  10. satisfaction with life in general and certain aspects of life.

Additionally, yearly topical modules enhance the basic information in (at least) one of these areas by asking detailed questions.

Test Period

Annually since 1984; for East Germany since 1990

Test Area and International Link

National / International connection by Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF)  and LIS - Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg

Population / Sample

The questioning population of the SOEP private households in Germany.

Migrants: the largest regular survey of foreigners and immigrants in the Federal Republic of Germany, including households whose head is Turkish, Spanish, Italian, Greek or former Yugoslavian as well as ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe ((Spät-)Aussiedler). We add an additional migration sample in 2013.

Since the year 2000, data on issues related specifically to children and teenagers have been collected through the Youth Questionnaire distributed to all 16- to 17-year-old household members.

Since 2003 mothers of newborns. From the year 2005 on, parents of two- to three-year-old children have received a special questionnaire. In the year 2008, the parents of five-to-six year-old children were surveyed; since 2010, the parents of seven-to eight-year-old children have been surveyed and since 2013 also parents of nine-to ten-year old children. Thus, since the 2003 birth cohort, the SOEP is also a real cohort study.

Sample Size

Label


Start Year


Housholds


Persons


Description


German West

1984

4,528

9,076

Head is either German or other nationality than those in "Foreigner" West

"Foreigner" West

1984

1,393

3,169

Head is either Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Greek or from the former Yugoslavia

Germans East

1990

2,179

4,453

Head was a citizen of the GDR (expansion of survey territory)

84-93 Immigrant (West)

1994/1995

522

1,078

At least one household member has moved to Germany after 1989 (expansion of survey population

Refreshment

1998

1,056

1,910

Random sample covering all existing subsamples (total population)

ISOEP

2000

6,043

10,880

Innovation Random sample covering all existing subsamples (total population)

High Income

2002

1,224

2,671

Monthly net household income is more than 4.500 Euro (7.500 DM)

Refreshment

2006

1,506

2,616

Random sample covering all existing subsamples (total population)

„Incentive"

2009

1,531

2,509

Random sample covering all existing subsamples (total population); since 2011 part of SOEP Innovation Sample

Refreshment

2011

3,136

5,161

Random sample covering all existing subsamples (total population)

Refreshment

2012

1,526

2,473

Random sample covering all existing subsamples (total population)

IAB-SOEP Migration sample

2013

2,723

4,964

Random sample covering immigrants arriving in Germany between 1995 and 2011 and descendant of immigrants entering the labor market between 1995 and 2011.

Survey Procedure and Instruments

The SOEP uses several different modes to collect the data but most prominently is face-to-face. Originally, the respondent’s answers were recorded by an interviewer who filled in a paper questionnaire, the so called pen-and-paper interview or PAPI.

The personal contact between interviewer and respondent is important for the success of the survey; however, before losing a respondent because of a scheduling conflict between interviewer and respondent, the SOEP allows mailing in the questionnaire starting from the second wave of subsamples A-I. This concept does not resemble the concept of a regular mail survey, because the interviewer still keeps the personal contact with the household and schedules appointments with its respondents if possible.

Starting with subsample J, only the computer assisted mode (CAPI) is allowed, and thus mailing in the questionnaires is no longer possible for new subsamples.

While the interviewer is in the household she/he directly conducts an interview with any household member, but can also hand out a questionnaire to other household members, who fill it in with or without her/his help (self-administered questionnaires, SAQ). This is much more time efficient for the interviewer, because household members can work in parallel on their questionnaires.

Link to the Detailed Description of the Study

http://www.diw.de/en/diw_02.c.239125.en/documentation.html

Persistent Identifier

DOI: 10.5684/soep.v30beta

Data Accessible via Research Data Centre

http://www.diw.de/en/diw_02.c.222829.en/access.html

Documentation of Variables

http://www.diw.de/en/diw_02.c.238110.en/generated_variables.html

http://hdl.handle.net/10419/85279

https://data.soep.de/

Contact

Michaela Engelmann
Phone.: +49 30 / 89 789 - 292
Email: soepmail[at]diw.de

Training

Training workshops (SOEPcampus) for SOEP users are held annually in Germany and abroad.

Selection of Publications using the Data

Lohmann, H. C., Spieß, K., Groh-Samberg, O., & Schupp (2009). Analysepotenziale des Sozio-oekonomischen Panels (SOEP) für die empirische Bildungsforschung. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 12(2), 252-280. (in German)

Research Area(s)