Refugee Families in Germany (Geflüchtete Familien in Deutschland, GeFam)

Department(s)/ Research Infrastructure
German Socio- Economic Panel study
Project Status
Current Project
Project Duration
since/from 2016 to 2019
Funded by
BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
In Cooperation with
Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of the German Federal Employment Agency (BA)
Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
in cooperation with the Research Centre on Migration, Integration, and Asylum of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF-FZ)
Project Manager
Jürgen Schupp (Consortioum Cordinator), Herbert Brücker (IAB), Martin Kroh (BIM)
Project Team/Contacts at DIW Berlin

Conception, Implementation, Preparation, Register Linkage, Analysis, and Data Provision/Distribution of a Representative Sample of Refugee Families (GeFam)

The survey topics cover the refugees’ living situations; their schooling, higher education, and vocational training; and their current occupational situations and social participation. Participation in the survey is voluntary. The study is designed around the SOEP household concept, with the “anchor” respondent drawn from the AZR being surveyed along with his or her family members. The survey is conducted by specially trained interviewers from the fieldwork organization TNS Infratest Sozialforschung with support from interpreters when needed.

Press release in German

The project “Refugee Families in Germany” was designed as a panel study to be conducted in the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 with the aim of substantially improving the data infrastructure for social and economic research on the living situations of refugees in Germany. BAMF will obtain the sample by random selection from the Central Register of Foreigners (AZR). The target population for the survey consists of all individuals who came to Germany seeking asylum between January 2013 and January 2016.
The survey covers topics including the refugees’ living situations; their schooling, higher education, and vocational training; and their current occupational situations and social participation. Participation in the survey is voluntary. The study is designed around the SOEP household concept, with the “anchor” respondent drawn from the AZR being surveyed along with his or her family members. The survey is conducted by specially trained interviewers from the fieldwork organization TNS Infratest Sozialforschung with support from interpreters when needed.

The research data will be checked and prepared for user-friendly analysis as soon as fieldwork has been completed, and will be provided to researchers worldwide in anonymized form by the Research Data Center of the SOEP and the IAB. The planned linkage of survey data with the IAB’s Integrated Employment Biographies (IEB) data set holds great potential for analysis of labor market integration and for research on other aspects of structural integration.

The first round of the IAB-BAMF-SOEP survey covering 1,600 “anchor” respondents and their family members has been in the field since June 2016. The survey has been made possible through financing from the Federal Employment Agency.

The application for the project “Conception, Implementation, Preparation, Register Linkage, Analysis, and Data Provision/Distribution of a Representative Sample of Refugee Families (GeFam)“ recently approved by the BMBF envisions that this sample be doubled by another 1,600 “anchor” respondents along with their families. The GeFam boost sample was designed to increase the number of individuals in the sample who came to Germany with their children or with other underage family members. Fieldwork for the boost sample is set to begin in August 2016. At present, around one-third of all refugees arriving in Germany are minors, and about 90% are accompanied by their parents or other adult family members.

Plans for the GeFam project also include allowing researchers from outside DIW / IAB the opportunity to provide input to the survey. These possibilities will be expanded and formalized in the years to come.

Revision of the Dataset (Notice from December 2017)

The Institute of Employment Research (IAB), the Information Centre for Asylum and Migration of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF-FZ), and the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) are currently working together on a longitudinal survey of refugees. The survey research institute Kantar Public (formerly TNS Infratest) has been commissioned to carry out the interviews. Kantar Public performs routine checks to ensure the quality of the survey. In preparation for the next round of interviews, Kantar Public found that one interviewer had not conducted interviews according to the established procedures. Six percent of the total household interviews were affected.

To address this issue, the research institutes involved in the study asked an expert in survey research methodology who is not part of the project, Prof. Dr. Jörg-Peter Schräpler of Ruhr University Bochum, to evaluate the dataset for statistical anomalies. In cases where additional statistical anomalies were identified, the respondents were contacted again. All of these respondents confirmed that their interviews had been conducted properly. These comprehensive checks provided no indication that further irregularities had occurred in the process of conducting the survey.

Kantar Public is currently assessing its quality control procedures and will take the necessary steps to improve quality control in its fieldwork processes and organization. Users of data from the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees have been informed, and a revised version of the dataset will be provided to them soon.

After rechecking the results of studies published thus far based on the survey data, we have determined that the basic conclusions of these studies still hold after the data revision. The deviations in the revised dataset are either within the margin of statistical error, or they result in only slight differences of a few percentage points compared to the previously released version of the data. Details on the revised results can be found on the IAB website at this link (in German).

The DIW publications affected by the data revision will be replaced with corrected versions in early 2018.