Title: German Socio-economic Panel Study (SOEP), data of the years 1984 – 2007

DOI: 10.5684/soep.v24
Collection period: 1984–2007
Publication date: 07.07.2008
Principal investigators: Gert. G. Wagner, Joachim R. Frick, Jürgen Schupp, Silke Anger, Jan Goebel, Markus M. Grabka, Olaf Groh-Samberg, Elke Holst, Peter Krause, Martin Kroh, Henning Lohmann, Rainer Pischner, Christian Schmitt, C. Katharina Spieß, Martin Spieß

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Short description

The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) is a wide-ranging representative longitudinal study of private households, located at the German Institute for Economic Research, DIW Berlin. Every year, there were nearly 11,000 households, and more than 20,000 persons sampled by the fieldwork organization TNS Infratest Sozialforschung. The data provide information on all household members, consisting of Germans living in the Old and New German States, Foreigners, and recent Immigrants to Germany. The Panel was started in 1984. Some of the many topics include household composition, occupational biographies, employment, earnings, health and satisfaction indicators.
As early as June 1990—even before the Economic, Social and Monetary Union—SOEP expanded to include the states of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), thus seizing the rare opportunity to observe the transformation of an entire society. An immigrant sample was added as well to account for the changes that took place in Germany society in 1994/95. Further new samples were added in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2006. The survey is constantly being adapted and developed in response to current social developments.

Data collector: TNS Infratest Sozialforschung GmbH

Population: Persons living in private households in Germany

Selection method: All samples of SOEP are multi-stage random samples which are regionally clustered. The respondents (households) are selected by random-walk.

Collection mode: The interview methodology of the SOEP is based on a set of pre-tested qustionnaires for households and individuals. Principally an interviewer tries to obtain face-to-face interviews with all members of a given survey household aged 16 years and over. Additionally one person (head of household) is asked to answer a household related questionnaire covering information on housing, housing costs, and different sources of income. This covers also some questions on children in the household up to 16 years of age, mainly concerning attendance at institutions (kindergarten, elementary school, etc.).

Dataset information:

Number of units 61,544
Number of variables 39,550 in 297 datasets
Data formats STATA, SPSS, SAS, CSV


  • Gert G. Wagner; Richard V. Burkhauser, and Frederike Behringer. 1993. The English Language Public Use File of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, The Journal of Human Resources 28 (2), 429-433.
  • Jan Goebel, Markus M. Grabka, Stefan Liebig, Martin Kroh, David Richter, Carsten Schröder, Jürgen Schupp. 2018. The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik / Journal of Economics and Statistics (online first), doi: 10.1515/jbnst-2018-0022

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Data access

The SOEP micro data which we make available for scientific research for a small fee can only be interpreted using statistical software.
Direct use of SOEP data is subject to the high standards for lawful data protection in the Federal Republic of Germany. Signing a contract on data distribution with the DIW Berlin is therefore a precondition for working with SOEP data. After signing the contract, the data of every new wave will be sent on request via certified mail (and cannot be received via the Internet or email due to security considerations).
more information

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Online documentation and updates

The SOEP provides detailled information about the survey and the generated variables, please look for details here.

Version specific changes in the dataset.

Known bugs/fixes after distributing the DVDs.