European Social Survey

Research question/goal: 

The European Social Survey (ESS) studies social, political and moral attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour of citizens in Europe. It provides high-quality data for comparative empirical research. The ESS is part of the European social science infrastructure and was awarded the status of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in 2013. Since 2002, representative samples of the populations of more than twenty European countries are interviewed every two years. The study employs the most rigorous survey methodologies in terms of questionnaire design, instrument development, sampling, fieldwork, and survey documentation.

Beside a core module of socio-demographic and substantive indicators referring to important topics such as politics, religion, and well-being, each wave consists of two rotating modules covering a current academic or policy concern within Europe. Major topics include immigration, health inequalities, and attitudes toward climate change and energy. The replication of core instruments increasingly enables the comparative analysis of change and persistence within and across European societies. Data for all participating countries are available free of charge from the international ESS website (

The MZES hosted the German part of the study from its preparatory phase in the 1990s up to the supervision and management of the questionnaire design and data collection for the first six waves (2002—2012). Furthermore, it provided support for these tasks in rounds seven and eight (2013—2017). The German team has published a number of books and articles as well as related teaching and dissemination materials, especially on the position of this country in Europe and the integration of eastern and western parts of Germany and Europe. At the end of 2017, the number of registered ESS users exceeded 110,000, of which almost 12,000 are coming from Germany. The ESS has thus become one of the most authoritative empirical resources for studying social change in Europe.

Fact sheet

2002 to 2017
Data Sources: 
survey of representative population samples
Geographic Space: 
33 European countries (including Israel and Turkey)



van Deth, Jan W. (Ed.) (2013): Comparative Politics: The Problem of Equivalence. Colchester: ECPR Press. more
Keil, Silke I., and Jan W. van Deth (Eds.) (2012): Deutschlands Metamorphosen. Ergebnisse des European Social Survey 2002 bis 2008. Baden-Baden: Nomos. [Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung; 20] more
van Deth, Jan W., and Jan C. P. M. Vis (2006): Regeren in Nederland. Het politieke en bestuurlijke bestel in vergelijkend perspectief. 3rd ed., Assen: Van Gorcum. more