News of SOEP News, Press Releases and job offers of SOEP en SOEP (DIW Berlin) 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": interview with 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
Sarah Dahmann successfully defended her dissertation Sarah Dahmann successfully defended her dissertation on “Human Capital Returns to Education – Three Essays on the Causal Effects of Schooling on Skills and Health” at Freie Universität Berlin. On the same day, she received her graduation certificate from the DIW Graduate Center at a ceremony with 15 other PhD graduates, including three former SOEP members, Elisabeth Church (née Bügelmayer), Adrian Hille, and Nina Vogel.

Sarah has left the SOEP to start a postdoctoral position at the University of Sydney as of March. We wish her all the best and a good start downunder.

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 01:17:00 +0200
SOEP Survey Committee welcomes new members At its November 2016 meeting, the DIW Berlin Board of Trustees appointed two new members to an initial three-year term on the SOEP Survey Committee. As of 2017, Arthur van Soest, Professor at the Tilburg School of Economics and Management, Netherlands, and Urs Fischbacher, Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Konstanz, join the other seven members of the SOEP Survey Committee in advising the SOEP on its survey and services. At the same meeting, the Board appointed Jutta Heckhausen and Dalton Conley to a second three-year term.

Arthur van Soest is a renowned expert in micro-econometrics and panel data analysis. Through his very successful research on the economics of decision-making, he has gathered extensive experience with surveys and experiments.
Urs Fischbacher’s research deals with questions of altruism, motivation, cooperation, social norms, and fairness.

According to the By-Laws, the nine members advise SOEP management on the development of the survey and on SOEP service. The new appointments were necessary because the former Chair of the Survey Committee, Rainer Winkelmann, as well as Simon Gächter had served their statutory limit of two terms on the committee. The SOEP group extends its sincere thanks to both Rainer Winkelmann and Simon Gächter for their extraordinary commitment and contributions to the SOEP. Rainer Winkelmann has played a significant role as Chair of the SOEP Survey Committee in the SOEP’s successes over the course of his two terms in office. In January, Uwe Sunde assumed the position as Chair of the Survey Committee.

SOEP Survey Committee

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 01:16:00 +0200
Awards for SOEP researchers Ralph Hertwig, cognitive psychologist at Berlin's Max Planck Institute for Human Development, has received the 2017 Funding Prize in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Programme from the DFG (German Research Foundation) for his work on the psychology of human judgment and decision-making. Ralph Hertwig is the fourth SOEP data user to be awarded this distinguished research prize: he was preceded by Ulman Lindenberger, Armin Falk, and Lutz Raphael. The SOEP group will be working with Hertwig on the “Origins and Determinants of Risk Preferences” project, which is financed by the Max Planck Society and will run until 2021. A joint publication on the subject has already been published based on SOEP data:

Josef, Anika K., David Richter, Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin, Gert G. Wagner, Ralph Hertwig and Rui Mata. 2016. Stability and Change in Risk-Taking Propensity Across the Adult Life Span. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 111, No. 3, 430-450. (doi: 10.1037/pspp0000090).

The 2016 Joachim Herz Award for Economics in the category "Best Project of a Senior Researcher" including a grant of €50,000 also went to a SOEP researcher. Urs Fischbacher, who was recently appointed to the SOEP Survey Committee, was honored for his distinguished achievements in experimental economics, last year’s award theme. The award promotes interdisciplinary and methodologically innovative approaches in research.

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 01:15:00 +0200
Analyzing special population or occupational groups The paper “Berufsgruppe ‘Erzieherin’: Zufrieden mit der Arbeit, aber nicht mit der Entlohnung” by C. Katharina Spieß and Franz G. Westermaier published in the DIW-Wochenbericht Nr. 43 (in German) in 2016 has again shown that the SOEP sample size is now so large that it provides the basis for statistically valid findings on even relatively small population groups. We encourage SOEP users to conduct more analyses like these.

The expansion of day care in Germany over the past few years has led to a corresponding growth in the number of childcare workers. How satisfied are these employees with their work? Do they feel overburdened? And how do their feelings differ from those working in comparable professions? The study by Spieß and Westermaier attempts to answer these question using data from the SOEP. The data show that childcare workers are quite satisfied with their work, reporting satisfaction levels as high as those of primary school teachers. When it comes to pay, however, they are more dissatisfied than those in the comparison groups. Although they do not feel burdened by many aspects of their work, the balance between effort and reward is poorer than it is among most of the other professional groups. More investment in early education could be worthwhile, because if childcare workers are more satisfied with their pay and find their jobs less stressful, the quality of education will increase overall. This will ultimately be an investment in current and future human potential.

Spiess and Westermaier cite examples of other articles using SOEP data to study small population groups. Studies on teachers and artists include:

Steiner, Lasse, and Lucian Schneider. 2013. “The happy artist? An empirical application of the work-preference model” Journal of Cultural Economics 37, no. 2, pp. 225-246. (doi: 10.1007/s10824-012-9179-1)

Schult, Johannes, Manuela Münzer-Schrobildgen, and Jörn R. Sparfeldt. 2014. “Belastet, aber hochzufrieden? – Arbeitsbelastung von Lehrkräften im Quer- und Längsschnitt”, Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie 22, no. 2, pp. 67-67. (doi: 10.1026/0943-8149/a000114)

Dohmen, Thomas, and Armin Falk. 2010. “You get what you pay for: Incentives and selection in the education system” The Economic Journal, vol. 120, no. 546, F256-F271. (doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02376.x)

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 10:43:00 +0200
Real Income Rose Significantly between 1991 and 2014 on Average – First Indication of Return to Increased Income Inequality The real disposable income of private households in Germany, accounting for inflation, rose by 12 percent between 1991 and 2014. This is what the present study based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) has shown. However, the trends varied greatly depending on income group. While the middle income segment rose by more than eight percent, the highest income segment increased by up to 26 percent. The lower income segment, on the contrary, declined in real terms. Consequently, income inequality has increased overall, especially in the first half of the 1990s, in the period from 1999 to 2005, and after 2009. It stagnated or even decreased in the interim periods. The proportion of people at risk of poverty has recently become greater again. Gainful employment still provides the most effective protection against income poverty, but more and more employed persons are at risk of becoming poor. Containment of the low wage sector, by revoking the privileged status of mini-jobs, for example, could counteract this effect. And single parents should no longer be fiscally disadvantaged in comparison to childless coupled households – this could also reduce the number of children at risk of poverty.

The full report by Markus M. Grabka and Jan Goebel in: DIW Economic Bulletin 5/2017

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 11:56:00 +0200
"The Gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing": seven questions for Markus M. Grabka Mr. Grabka, the German economy has flourished in recent years. To what extent is its economic growth reflected in the growth of income?

On average across the total population disposable household income after inflation has risen, but depending on their income level, various segments of the population have contributed to this increase differently. [...]

The interview with Markus M. Grabka in DIW Economic Bulletin 5/2017

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 11:50:00 +0200
Linked IAB-SOEP-Migration Sample available The surveyed persons of the IAB-SOEP Migration Sample, integrated into SOEP-Core as Sample M, have been asked for their consent to link their data to administrative data.

The Research Data Center of the Insitute for Employment Research (FDZ IAB) now provides a data set with the linked administrative data (IAB-SOEP-MIG-ADIAB). Data access is possible via on-site use at the FDZ IAB and subsequently also via remote data access.

More information on the website of the FDZ IAB.

You can reach the FDZ IAB again from January 9, 2017 on.

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 02:49:00 +0200
SOEP-Core v32 (1984-2015) available The data of our main study SOEP-Core covering the years 1984-2015 are ready to use.

Please place your order online if you haven't done so (only for registered data users).

All users are required to sign a data distribution contract or to register with an existing contract.
Please find more i
nformation on this site or contact our SOEP-Hotline.

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 01:56:00 +0200
Forced migration, arrival in Germany, and first steps toward integration A new representative survey of a total of 4,500 recently arrived refugees to Germany conducted by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the Research Centre of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF-FZ), and the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) has generated an entirely new database for analyzing forced migration and the integration of refugees into German society. The findings we present here are based on the first part of the survey, in which over 2,300 people were interviewed. In addition to the causes of forced migration, the survey captures data on escape routes and educational and vocational biographies. Respondents also answered questions about their values, attitudes, and personality traits, as well as their integration into the German job market and education system. The results show that the threats of war, violence, and persecution were their primary reasons for migration, and that the costs and risks of migration are high. The refugees show extreme heterogeneity in educational backgrounds. The share of respondents who arrived in Germany with vocational or university degrees is low. However, these refugees have high aspirations when it comes to education. And in terms of values, they have more in common with the German population than with the populations of their respective countries of origin. The integration of refugees into the job market and education system has just begun, but Germany’s integration policy measures are starting to have a perceptible impact.

The full report by Jürgen Schupp et al. in: DIW Economic Bulletin 48/2016

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:21:00 +0200
Refugees have a strong educational orientation: eight questions for Jürgen Schupp Mr. Schupp, more than 2300 refugees above the age of 18 have been interviewed in a representative survey. Which countries do these refugees come from?

For the first time, we have drawn a representative picture of the influx of refugees to Germany between January 2013 and January 2016. The large majority of refugees in our sample—about 60 percent—came from Syria, but we also have many from Afghanistan and Africa.

The interview with Jürgen Schupp is published in: DIW Economic Bulletin 48/2016.

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0200
IT and communication technologies dominate adolescent downtime Today’s teenagers spend their free time very differently than they did 15 years ago: engagement with IT and communications technologies is now their most significant leisure activity. Representative statistics based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) longitudinal study indicate that Internet and computer-based recreation plays a major role for more than 95 percent of all 17-yearolds in Germany, regardless of gender. Even though access to the Internet and computer-based technologies is now widespread across all social classes, usage patterns differ according to certain socio-demographic characteristics. While lower household income is associated with higher Internet activity, it is not a factor in social networking or gaming. The latter remains a male domain, but boys’ and girls’ Internet usage and social network engagement do not differ: here the type of high school plays a determining role. Students in academically oriented German high schools (Gymnasien) are more likely to be active on social media on a daily basis than are students in secondary schools (Realschulen and Hauptschulen), which are less academically oriented. Education policymakers have started acknowledging the pivotal role that technology plays in young people’s lives and have announced a campaign targeted to adolescents of all social segments and at all types of high schools. It aims to strengthen students’ command of technology while discussing the risks of digital communication, and investigate how education can leverage more of the new opportunities in digital media.

The full report by Sandra Bohmann and Jürgen Schupp in: DIW Economic Bulletin 48/2016

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 08:45:00 +0200
2016 User Survey underway: We want to hear from you! Only if we have precise knowledge about the needs of the users of the SOEP data we are able to provide the best service. Therefore, in regular intervals we conduct user surveys.

Your experiences will help us to improve our infrastructure and services and facilitate use of the SOEP data.

This year we will be focusing on the diversity of studies provided in the Research Data Center of the SOEP to find out more about the interplay among the various SOEP datasets. Your feedback and suggestions are very important to us: Only you may see possibilities for improvement that we might not think of otherwise. We would be grateful if you would take approximately 10 minutes to respond to this questionnaire.

If you have not yet participated in our online survey, we invite you to do so now! (Deadline: December 23, 2016). Thank you very much!

Only if you haven't got an invitation you can register for the survey online here.

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 05:13:00 +0200
Kantar Public the new branding of TNS Infratest Since end of September the fieldwork institute conducting the SOEP surveys since more than 30 years has changed its name to Kantar Public. As Kantar Public Germany it remains an independent institute focusing on social and political research.

Jürgen Schupp, Director of the SOEP, expects Kantar Public to produce data on a wide range of political and social research topics that meet highe scientific and survey methodological standards, and to also provide experise for analyses and advisory work.

More on this in the SOEPnewsletter 113.

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 02:12:00 +0200