Mission Statement of the SOEP


The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) is an independent, non-partisan research-driven infrastructure unit that serves the international scientific community by providing nationally representative longitudinal data (the SOEP study) and related datasets on private households in Germany. SOEP members (the SOEP group) are recognized for their high-level scientific research ranging from survey methodology to applied and policy oriented topics.

The SOEP study is designed from a multidisciplinary perspective to provide data for basic, applied and policy-relevant research that will improve our understanding of human behavior in general, economic decisions in detail, and mechanisms of social change embedded in the household context, the neighborhood, and different institutional settings and policy regimes. Research questions and survey contents are solely determined by scientific criteria. The SOEP group’s panel data expertise and high-level scientific research output, as exemplified by its outstanding publication record, are the foundation for its work in providing the SOEP household panel data to the scientific community.

Cornerstones of our work

The SOEP data are provided in user-friendly form to researchers in a wide range of disciplines: the social and behavioral sciences, including economics, sociology, demography, psychology, public health, political science, and contemporary history, but also the life sciences (in particular genetics) and medicine. The data from the SOEP and related studies are provided in user-friendly form through an innovative metadata portal designed to international standards using open-source software.

The SOEP study is unique in that it covers thousands of households in Germany and has been collecting important information every year since 1984 on the economic and social circumstances, behavior, and subjective well-being of individuals from an intergenerational life-course perspective. The SOEP is constantly introducing new areas and methods of measurement (e.g., biomarkers, physical measures, “qualitative measures” such as written answers to open-ended survey questions, and geo-referenced context data) to improve and develop survey methodologies for assessing the determinants of human behavior. In this area, an important tool introduced recently is the SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS). It offers the international research community a unique platform for cutting-edge research, providing additional information to complement the data from the core SOEP sample.

Members of the SOEP group are engaged in conceptually advanced and methodologically sophisticated scientific research in economics, sociology, psychology, and other areas of the social sciences, as well as in applied (policy-oriented) research and policy advice (social monitoring) beyond descriptive research. Their research generates findings that are of crucial interest not only to the scientific community but also to policy-makers and the broader public.

The SOEP is engaged in numerous collaborations and joint projects with scholars worldwide, whose expertise in a variety of disciplines adds to the depth and diversity of the SOEP research. The SOEP is an international leader in the provision of cross-national equivalent household panel data.

Members of the SOEP group provide high-quality training and teaching to support and facilitate knowledge transfer to the next generation of researchers. The SOEP group strives to make the research conducted with the survey data accessible and understandable to a broad audience through the German and international media.


The SOEP is setting new national and international standards in the conception, design, implementation, and user-friendly preparation and distribution of household panel data and related data, and it strives to lead the field internationally in the quality, originality, significance, and rigor of its work.