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SOEP as Reference Data

There are now a number of studies in Germany that have adopted some questions from the SOEP in order to be able to test the results later for comparability with a representative population.

The following listed studies are not distributed by the SOEP Research Data Center.


Household panels in general—and the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in particular—can serve as reference data for researchers collecting datasets that are not representative of an entire population (e.g., data from clinical trials, intervention studies, laboratory or behavioral experiments, or cohort studies). The Research Data Center of the SOEP provides the special service of consulting personally with researchers who want to use SOEP as a reference data set or as a control sample for their own studies. One aspect of this service is tailored advice to researchers on how to design their own longitudinal studies. Recommendations are given not only on questionnaire design and survey questions but also on specific survey techniques such as the tracking rule, which makes it possible to follow cohort members as well as their children and grandchildren, spouses, and other relatives over time. 

Here we present a comprehensive list of SOEP-Core questions that we recommend researchers consider when collecting their own data. We focus on seven topics:
(1) demographic and parental characteristics
(2) labor markets
(3) health
(4) personality, preferences, and subjective orientations
(5) subjective well-being
(6) political involvement and participation
(7) a set of core questions for young children before they enter school.

Of course, the selection of a minimum set of questions depends on the research question at hand.

Using SOEP questions is easy, but selecting the best questions for a given project is often more difficult. The SOEP survey group is happy to provide advice. But due to our finite staff capacities, consultations must be planned well in advance.

For more information see: 

Thomas Siedler, Jürgen Schupp, C. Katharina Spieß, and Gert G. Wagner. 2009. The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) as Reference Data Set. Schmollers Jahrbuch 129(2): 367 - 374.

Question selection for your study:

Adult questions

Mother-child questions

Original SOEP questionnaires

Studies already using or used SOEP questions:

Affect Across the Lifespan

Project EVA - Evaluation of two prevention programs with high risk children in kindergarten




Early Intervention Project 'Pro Kind' | PDF, 309.63 KB

IZA Evaluation Data Set

Long-term consequences of congenital heart disease (I)

NUBBEK - Nationale Untersuchung zur Bildung, Betreuung und Erziehung in der frühen Kindheit

Ravensburger Elternsurvey


Studies who already used SOEP questions: