News of SOEP News, Press Releases and job offers of SOEP en SOEP (DIW Berlin) Income groups and types of employment in Germany since 1995 This report examines how income groups and forms of employment in Germany have changed in the past two decades. Since the mid-1990s, inequality in disposable household income in Germany has generally increased. This trend was in effect until 2005. While fewer people had disposable incomes in the median range, the proportion of the population at both tails of the income distribution increased. At the same time, there were many changes in the labor market. Employment rose, working hours became increasingly differentiated, and starting in 2005, the unemployment rate fell. While the employment increase was spread across almost all income groups, it was reflected differently in each group. The proportion of people with low wages in the income groups below the median rose steadily during the two decades studied. At the same time, in 2014–15 more people in high income groups had regular types of employment than they did in the second half of the 1990s. In the groups in the median range, regular types of employment were recently as frequent as they were 20 years ago and unemployment also declined here. Further, in these groups the proportion of those with jobs paying low wages is higher.

The full report by Peter Krause, Christian Franz, and Marcel Fratzscher in: DIW Economic Bulletin 27 (2017)

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 03:35:00 +0200
"Regular employment continues to play important role": Five questions for Peter Krause and Christian Franz Mr. Krause, you took a close look at income groups in Germany. What did you hope to accomplish?

Peter Krause: We wanted to bring together two discussion threads in our study. One thread has to do with the long-term trend in inequality of household income distribution and the other, with changes in labor force participation. Until the mid-2000s, inequality in disposable household income increased and has plateaued on the same high level ever since. At the same time, labor force participation has risen rapidly: many more people have jobs now than 20 years ago. The question here is: how have employment types changed in the respective income groups? [...]

The interview with Peter Krause and Christian Franz is published in the DIW Economic Bulletin 27 (2017)

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 03:30:00 +0200
“Living in Germany” – Our new SOEP brochure now available online! Our new brochure “Living in Germany” offers a compact source of information about the kinds of research currently being done with SOEP data of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and key findings from these studies. In the brochure, we present a selection of research results with significant implications for society and policy making from the more than 7,000 papers published to date using SOEP data. And we introduce some of the researchers from all over the world who are using SOEP data in their research. We also highlight the most important events in the history of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study.

The brochure replaces one produced ten years ago on the occasion of our 25-year anniversary and is now available in two formats: pdf and epub. We would also be happy to send you a printed copy (send your request to

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 03:53:00 +0200
Just out: the 2016 SOEP Wave Report Just out: the 2016 SOEP Wave Report, with a look at important developments in the SOEP studies over the last year, fieldwork reports from Kantar Public, projects and activities of the SOEP Research Data Center, and selected publications using SOEP data.

Download here.

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 02:48:00 +0200
Real estate price polarization projected to increase until 2030 in Germany Demographic projections for Germany indicate a drop in the population of many regions by 2030. This is likely to have an impact on the real estate market. Our report presents the result of a model calculation of asking prices for residential real estate in Germany up to 2030 based on market data from empirica-systeme GmbH and a population projection from the Bertelsmann Foundation. Depending on the model specifications, it appears that real estate price polarization will increase by 2030. As with all model calculations, the results are subject to uncertainty. In the scenario presented here, we strictly focus on the demographic effect on real estate prices. According to our projections, in one-third of all rural districts (Landkreise) and urban districts (kreisfreie Städte), the market value of condominiums will fall by over 25 percent. This will also be the case for single- and two-family homes in one-quarter of all districts. Some regions in eastern Germany will be hit particularly hard by this development. In and around urban centers, however, the trend of rising prices is expected to continue. Our findings also show that the polarization of real estate prices might cause the inequality of wealth in Germany to rise slightly.

The full report by Christian Westermeier and Markus M. Grabka in: DIW Economic Bulletin 25/26 (2017)

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 01:00:00 +0200
"Depopulation to affect regional real estate prices": Seven questions for Markus M. Grabka Mr. Grabka, you have studied the effects of the demographic shift on residential real estate prices in Germany. What does population growth in the coming decades look like?

We based our work on the population forecast coordinated by the German Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt), which currently extends to 2060. According to that projection, the population of Germany will shrink by between eight and 13 million persons by then, depending on the level of migration to the country. [...]

The interview with Markus M. Grabka is published in the DIW Economic Bulletin 25-26/2017

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:59:00 +0200
Call for proposals for the 2018 IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees - Deadline September 30 for the 2018 Survey The IAB, BAMF, and SOEP invite researchers to submit proposal for questions to be added to the questionnaire in 2018—the third wave of the survey. If you would like to suggest any additional questions or items on refugees that are relevant to your current or future research and that would benefit from the longitudinal character of the IAB-BAMF-SOEP  Survey of Refugees, we would be happy to hear from you.

Criteria for the selection of items or questions are: scientific excellence, novelty in the context of the existing questionnaires, relevance for a wide range of data users, applicability in the context of a longitudinal household survey, comparability with other SOEP migration or general population surveys, as well as efficiency of implementation. Please note that the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees is a computer-assisted face-to-face survey using audio files in five different languages.

More information

Wed, 24 May 2017 02:59:00 +0200
In 2016, around one-third of people in Germany donated for refugees and ten percent helped out on site—yet concerns are mounting The presence of refugees in Germany and the challenges their integration poses have preoccupied the public for the past two years. According to the latest data of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), many more people in Germany were concerned about migration and xenophobia last year than in 2013. The additional representative results of the Barometer of Public Opinion on Refugees in Germany in 2016 and the current SOEP wave also indicated that respondents see more risks than opportunities in the refugee migration to Germany. At the same time, around one-third of the population said they had actively supported refugees in the form of monetary or material donations; around ten percent had helped out on site, for example by accompanying refugees to appointments at authorities or language instruction. People with a higher level of formal education and a history of volunteering were more likely to assist actively on site in the integration of refugees. In the course of the year, however, the number of respondents who expressed their intention to become active in the future decreased.

The full report by Jannes Jacobsen, Philipp Eisnecker and Jürgen Schupp in DIW Economic Bulletin 17/2017

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:24:00 +0200
"The higher educated, the more optimistic about the consequences of refugee immigration": eight questions for Philipp Eisnecker Mr. Eisnecker, have the population’s concerns about refugee migration grown or declined?

We can conclusively say that in 2015 and 2016, the population was markedly more concerned about migration – and xenophobia as well. This statement is based on data from the Socio- Economic Panel (SOEP), a longitudinal survey, which has collected data on the population’s concerns on a range of topics for years. [...]

The full interview with Philipp Eisnecker in DIW Economic Bulletin 17/2017.

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:13:00 +0200
SOEP-IS: 2015 data release The data from the 2015 survey of the SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS) have now been released and can be ordered by SOEP users. The current data distribution contains the data from the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 innovative modules.

More information

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 01:45:00 +0200
Daniel Schnitzlein has been appointed to the advisory board of the Thailand Vietnam Socio-Economic Panel Daniel Schnitzlein has been appointed to the advisory board of the Thailand Vietnam Socio-Economic Panel ( The TVSEP is a panel survey of households in Thailand and Vietnam (partly based on SOEP) and is managed from Hanover and Göttingen. The project will receive long-term financing for ten years (2015-2024) from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Daniel has also become a member of the Economics of Education Committee of the German Economic Association (VfS).

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 09:43:00 +0200
Andreas Franken joined the SOEP team Andreas Franken will be supporting the SOEP team as of April 1 with data preparation, in particular, the preparation and documentation of SOEPlong. Andreas most recently worked as a research assistant at the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) in Hanover, and prior to this at the University of Bamberg Chair of Sociology, where he also earned his degree in sociology.

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 09:35:00 +0200
SOEPnewsletter 115 published We are happy to present our recent SOEPnewsletter 115, April 2017.

We like to inform about

  • the data release of the 2015 SOEP-IS data,
  • news on SOEPinfo 2.0,
  • results of the SOEP User Survey,
  • new SOEP-Core documentation documents,

and many more.

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:43:00 +0200
New documentation for SOEP v32.1 available Beside the normal documentation on generated variables, we now for the first time provide 2015 questionnaires (indiviuals and biographical) generated from metadata.

Beside the questions, the documents contain the variable names and labels used in SOEP-Core and SOEPlong as well as the names of the data set containing the data. We published these questionnaires in an English and a German version.

Please find more information on our landing page of

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 06:03:00 +0200
SOEP People: Five questions to Rainer Winkelmann Rainer Winkelmann’s research on unemployment and happiness using SOEP data led to his groundbreaking 1998 paper “Why are the unemployed so unhappy?” (written jointly by Liliana Winkelmann), which conclusively demonstrated—for the first time—that unemployment makes people unhappy. It is the most widely cited paper in the history of the SOEP.

Rainer Winkelmann studied economics at the University of Konstanz, Paris IX-Dauphine, and Washington University in St. Louis, and he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Munich (1993). He has taught at Dartmouth College, USA, and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and was a visiting professor at Harvard University, Syracuse University, and UCLA. He is a Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich since 2001. His research is in micro-econometrics with applications to social policy issues in the fields of labor, health, and well-being.  He is a member of the DIW Berlin Scientific Advisory Board and chaired the SOEP Survey Committee up to the end of 2016.

The video of our interview, “SOEP People: A Conversation with Rainer Winkelmann” can be found in the DIW Mediathek.

1 . Your paper “Why are the unemployed so unhappy?”, published in 1998 in the journal Economica, paved the way for a growing body of research on unemployment and happiness. What did you find out?

First, we found that unemployment matters a lot to individuals’ well-being. For instance, unemployed people on average have a 10 percent lower probability of being happy than employed people. Second, we found out that income is not that important for well-being. This fits with an idea that emerged around the same time that economics is too narrow in focus. It’s not just what makes workers go to work. It’s not just a high per capita GDP that’s needed for a good society. There is much more to it than that—there are other things that people look for and that contribute to their well-being. It’s not just money.

Incidentally, we published another paper three years before the Economica paper in the journal Konjunkturpolitik, where we studied how unemployment affects the household when one partner is unemployed. The SOEP data allowed us to do that because they provide the family context. What we found is not really that surprising: women are very unhappy when their partner is unemployed. This actually means that unemployment is overall even worse than what we described in our Economica paper, because it not only affects the unemployed person but also spills over in the household.

2 . Today, almost 20 years later, do you see policy impacts of that research?

One part of the long-term impact was to put life satisfaction and well-being research on the agenda and say it’s not just money that matters; there should be broader notions. It’s not enough to focus on macroeconomic factors like maximizing GDP; to have high well-being in a country, other things matter as well. That slowly starts to have impact in policy circles. Now the OECD has a “better life index” that takes account of these broader measures of well-being that came from life satisfaction and happiness research. The UN edits a world happiness report. Our research has supported the idea that one should judge progress not just by looking at income changes or GDP growth, but also by looking at other indicators. 

3 . Several countries are discussing the introduction of a basic income. What does your research say about how a basic income might affect people’s incentive to work?

For economists, the idea of a basic income clearly has some appeal. As a labor economist, one is very aware of welfare traps: situations where people with low incomes who receive benefits have no monetary incentive at all to start working. Basic income would solve that. I think that our evidence is consistent with the notion that even a basic income would not stop most people from working because actually they like to work; they get social recognition from work. With a basic income, you can also work to supplement your income and have a higher income as a consequence. In this sense, there is some link between our unemployment research and the discussion on basic income.

4 . Your research has high policy relevance, but you’re also known in the SOEP community as an innovator and expert in micro-econometric methodologies.

Most of my research is really one step before policy-oriented research. I develop microeconomic methods and am happy if people use them in applied research that goes into policy reports, but I don’t have to be the person that actually does that. I find it more interesting to be guided by my curiosity than by current policy issues, so I think a bit more long-term about what to work on and what fascinates me. I find research fascinating because you can make discoveries—you think about questions that no one has addressed before. Whether it gets published in the end is almost secondary. We’ve written papers that were never published but I still thought it was a good experience and a good idea to do that research.

5. As a data user for over 30 years, you’ve seen numerous changes and innovations in the SOEP study…

The most important thing for my purposes was that from the start in 1984, the SOEP included a life satisfaction question, which no other survey had at the time and which was quite visionary. I think that has paid off nicely for the SOEP and for many researchers. We now have 32 years of data this year, so there are also tremendous opportunities for future research to look at long time series of consistent measurements in life satisfaction.

Another point that I think is important about the SOEP is that success breeds success. Once the SOEP was there—it was early and was doing good things—others picked up on it. A research community developed around the SOEP. That also makes the SOEP more attractive to you as a young researcher because you benefit from the experience, from the acknowledgment that this is a good dataset, and it becomes easier for you to publish. There are also the SOEP user conferences. All these aspects are important points when deciding what data to use.

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 05:40:00 +0200
Policy goals in the eyes of the public: preservation of the liberal democratic order remains most important More than just a few politicians and scientists see an imbalance in policy’s primary orientation toward economic goals, especially the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In view of scientific and public discourses on prosperity, this report analyzes how voting-eligible Germans, the electorate, rated the significance of different policy areas in 2013 and again at the beginning of 2017. It is based on two representative surveys conducted together with Kantar Public (formerly TNS Infratest), in which respondents were asked to rate the relevance of various policy areas. The areas included were based on the ten social indicators favored by the study commission, “Growth, Prosperity and Quality of Life,” and 20 out of the 46 indicators the German government uses in its “Living Well in Germany” Report to describe quality of life. This report shows that the majority of German citizens do indeed view the areas which are described by the indicators as important policy dimensions. In both 2013 and 2017, “preserving democracy” had the highest relevance. In 2017, “improved care for old people” was number two, and a “more effective battle against crime” took (by a very small margin) third place, followed by “full employment.” While there is a high consensus on the importance of these four goals, the assessment of the importance of further policy goals varies greatly across people, and there are also clear systematic differences in the relevance of policy areas among different social groups. The issue of refugees does not appear as a policy goal in the classifications of the commission and the government, which iswhy it was not included in the survey.

The full report by Marco Giesselmann, Nico A. Siegel, Thorsten Spengler and Gert G. Wagner in DIW Economic Bulletin 9/2017

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 09:15:00 +0200
Improving the quality of care for the elderly is of high relevance for all age groups: six questions for Marco Giesselmann Mr. Giesselmann, you studied how eligible voters in Germany judge the importance of various policy goals in 2013 and again at the beginning of this year. Which policy goals appeared in your survey?

We asked questions about direct economic aspects, including per capita income as well as indicators of income and wealth. Secondly, we asked about social aspects such as the employment rate, education rate, life expectancy, and the preservation of democracy. A third area our surveys addressed was ecology, for example reducing greenhouse gases and preserving biodiversity. [...]

The full interview with Marco Giesselmann in DIW Economic Bulletin 9/2017

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 09:14:00 +0200
New version for the SOEP-Core data 1984-2015 (v32.1) and SOEPlong data available Recently we published an update for the SOEP data 1984-2015 (v32.1).

This was because we found some mistakes in the data sets BIOCOUPLY, BIOMARSY, BFP, and BFPGEN.

At the same time, this version is also available in long-format to facilitate the longitudinal analysis of the data.

Please find more information on our landing page of

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 06:04:00 +0200
SOEPnewsletter 114 published We are happy to present our recent SOEPnewsletter 114, February 2017.

We like to inform about

  • the changes in the SOEP versions 32 and 32.1 (data 1984-2015),
  • the first data release of the SOEP Related Study TwinLife
  • first results of the SOEP User Survey
  • new SOEP team and SOEP Survey Committee members

and many more.

It may also be of interest to you to read a note on post-truth by Jürgen Schupp.

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:00:00 +0200
Christoph Halbmeier supports the SOEP team Christoph Halbmeier started to work in February as a SOEP research assistant on the DFG project “Wealth Distribution in Switzerland and Germany: Evidence from Survey Data”. He finished his degree in economics in October of last year at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His master’s thesis analyzed the effects of trade on the labor productivity in German industries. He worked previously as a student assistant on the SOEP team, and plans to complete a PhD while working at the SOEP.

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 01:18:00 +0200