Panel Study on Family Dynamics

Research question/goal: 

This project was part of the longterm project “pairfam” (Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which is conducted in cooperation with the Chemnitz University of Technology, the University of Bremen, and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Aim of the project is the collection of longitudinal survey data on partnership and family dynamics in Germany. Starting in 2008, survey data from a nationwide random sample of initially more than 12,000 persons of the three birth cohorts 1971-73, 1981-83, 1991-93 is collected. In addition to personal interviews with the main respondents the survey includes also questionnaires for their partners, parents and children. This multi-actor design enables a comprehensive analysis and a thorough understanding of the decision processes underlying the development of partnerships and intergenerational relationships over the course of multiple life phases. The survey data is made accessible to the public as scientific use files, including user friendly biographical datasets and a large number of generated variables. Data from the first wave was released in spring 2010; at the end of the project period in December 2012 release 3 is available containing the first three waves. The Mannheim research team was mainly responsible for questionnaire design, methodological coordination and data management. In addition to tasks directly related to data collection and processing, a number of methodological research projects have been conducted: By means of an experiment on panel conditioning included in the survey design of the first two waves it could be shown that measurement of relationship quality in the survey does not have an effect on the respondent’s relationship in the subsequent wave. A second experiment revealed the (mainly positive) effects of dependent interviewing on data quality. Analyses of the network data collected in wave 2 showed interviewer effects in the data as well as a method to identify the interviewers responsible for the interviewer effect. The multi-actor design was analyzed regarding nonresponse revealing the factors influencing the participation of partners and parents as well as the bias arising from nonresponse. In the beginning of the project an experiment was conducted which studied the effect of incentives on response rates and panel attrition; the analysis demonstrated conditional incentives as more effective in retaining respondents in the panel. The project was finished at the University of Mannheim in December 2012 as the project leader (Josef Brüderl) left the university due to an appointment at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The project is continued there.

Current stage: 

Fact sheet

2004 to 2012
continued elsewhere
Data Sources: 
Primary data collection
Geographic Space: 
Germany, subsequently comparative with the Netherlands and other European countries



Brüderl, Josef, Laura Castiglioni and Nina Schumann (Eds.) (2011): Partnerschaft, Fertilität und intergenerationale Beziehungen. Ergebnisse der ersten Welle des Beziehungs- und Familienpanels. Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag. [Schriftenreihe des Beziehungs- und Familienpanels (pairfam); 3] more
Schröder, Jette (2010): Der Zusammenhang zwischen der Erwerbstätigkeit von Frauen und Ihrer Fertilität. Würzburg: Ergon. [Familie und Gesellschaft; 27] more