Anchor and Alteri Data

As a multi-actor survey, pairfam strived to not only obtain interviews from the primary anchor persons, but also of several other family members (alteri). The first wave included only anchor respondents and their partners. From the second wave, (step)parents and children above the age of 8 were also interviewed and a parenting questionnaire has been added for anchor persons and partners. The parent survey ended with wave 8.  Because information is stored separately according to wave and respondent group, the scientific use file contains several datasets. By using a standardized key variable it is possible to link those data sets for longitudinal or dyadic analyses.


DemoDiff Subsample

DemoDiff is a complementary study to the German Family Panel, initiated and funded by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR). The annually repeated survey among East German anchor respondents from the birth cohorts 1971-73 and 1981-83, plus their partners, utilizes a largely identical set of instruments. Thus, the DemoDiff data offers an extended empirical basis for comparative East-West German analyses.

→ DemoDiff in the Data Catalogue of the GESIS Data Archive

The first DemoDiff survey wave took place one year after the start of the pairfam study between the fall of 2009 and spring 2010, with an initial sample of 1,489 randomly selected East German anchor respondents and 684 of their partners. In the following two years two further survey waves were conducted. The survey of 2010/11 includes modules of both the second and the third wave of pairfam. Detailed information about differences between the DemoDiff and the pairfam sample are given in the Data Manual.

The following survey wave from 2011/2012 is synchronized with the fourth wave of the pairfam survey. Therefore, DemoDiff waves 2 and 3 were integrated into the anchor and partner data sets (of pairfam waves 3 and 4!). Starting with the fifth wave, DemoDiff was fully integrated into pairfam and will be continued within the scope of the German Family Panel and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

  • DemoDiff Manual: supplements the pairfam Data Manual by documenting all specifics of the DemoDiff study (ENG)
  • Weighting: information on the weighting and validation of the initial net sample of DemoDiff (GER)


Step-up Data

The step-up respondents are former participants of the child interview who have reached the eligible age of 15 and now continue to take part in the main anchor interview. These “step-ups” were interviewed as of wave 4. In addition, step-up respondents were asked to answer a transitional PAPI questionnaire for the wave in which they first entered the anchor questionnaire, giving further background information on their person. Furthermore, step-up partner data is available. The data and documentation of the step-up anchor and partner respondents are stored in a separate folder in the Scientific-Use-File. For details, please refer to the Data Manual.


Refreshment Sample in Wave 11

As part of a sample refreshment, more than 5,000 first-time anchor interviewees were added in wave 11. This sample includes new respondents from the two youngest birth cohorts (1981-1983 and 1991-1993), as well as a new cohort (2001-2003) with more than 2,400 anchor respondents. For the latter, retrospective questions concerning partnership, fertility, mobility, educational and employment histories, critical life events, origin, childhood history, and their childhood were asked in addition to questions covering their current situation. Further, the questionnaire for refreshment sample respondents of all cohorts includes items on personality traits (Big5), their own upbringing, sexual orientation, risk-taking behavior, and religiousness.

Data from these refreshment sample respondents is included in the data set anchor11. Additionally, refreshment sample respondents’ partners and children were integrated into the respective Wave 11 alteri surveys. In order to easily identify the different survey groups, all data sets now contain the new generated variable “sample” with the categories “pairfam main sample”, “DemoDiff sample” and “refreshment sample”. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the variable cohort is labeled “4” for the youngest survey group.

Kantar’s methods report on fieldwork details for the refreshment sample is available on the pairfam homepage (in German only).

Additionally, Technical Paper No. 01 and theData Manual contain more detailed information on these new respondents.


Generated datasets

To increase user friendliness, we provide generated datasets with biographical information across all waves. For step-up respondents, only the birth and relationship biographies are available. Further information on generated datasets can be found in the Data Manual.

  • Activity biography (bioact/bioact_rtr): prospective and retrospective information on anchor's educational and occupational activities.
  • Birth biography (biochild): prospective and retrospective information on birth and cohabitation of all anchor children.
  • Mobility biography (biomob_): prospective and retrospective information on anchor's mobility: residences, migration history, moving out of the parental house. 
  • Parental biography (bioparent): prospective and retrospective information on anchor's biological, adoptive, and/or stepparents.
  • Relationship biography (biopart): prospective and retrospective information on anchor's partnerships after the age of 14: relationships, cohabitation, and marriage history.
  • Household patterns (household): prospective information on anchor's household (waves 1-3): residence and household members.
  • Multi-actor overview (overview_multi_actor): prospective information on participation of the anchor's alters in the survey.


Macro data (regional keys and microm indicators)

Numerous approaches within the field of relationship and family dynamics research point to the high relevance of contextual conditions. The German Family Panel offers the opportunity to deal with such questions empirically by linking microdata from the pairfam survey with a selection of external macrodata. Moreover, the identification of the anchor's main place of residence and geo-coordinates in a supplemental data set makes the concatenation of additional regional indicators possible.

The following types of macro data are available:

  • Federal state, municipality size at main residence, settlement structure at anchor’s and parents’ main residences (included in the Scientific Use files)
  • Distance of retrospectively and prospectively collected moves of the anchor person (included in generated data sets biomob_ehc and biomob_rtr)
  • Municipality and district code of the anchor's main residence (only available at secured workplaces)
  • microm regional indicators for waves 1-5 (only available at secured workplaces)
  • Information on primary sampling units (PSU) (only available at secured workplaces)
  • Geo-coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the anchor's main residence (only available for the purpose of linking macro information at the pairfam user service) 

The locally based indicators provided by microm Consumer Marketing, a commercial provider active in the fields of group-oriented, dialog-oriented, and geographically targeted marketing contain information on the following attributes:

  • type of residential neighborhood, type of built environment, type of street, number of households within the street section (distinguishing between owners and renters), population density, share of cultural and leisure facilities in relation to all private households and business enterprises;
  • the socioeconomic character of the neighborhood with regard to the average status level, the unemployment rate, family structure, number of children, life-phase and age structure, proportion of foreigners, and ethnic composition;
  • mobility of neighborhood residents in terms of average volume of moves, balance of moves, residential fluctuation, rate of moves to/from nearby locations, and the volume of moves to/from far-away locations;
  • the dominant social milieu and the probability of the presence of the various Sinus Milieus®.

→ microm-Market Indicators (in German) (Please note: Not all of the microm indicators listed in this document are available for the pairfam data. If you are interested in specific variables, please contact the pairfam user support.)

Furthermore, the primary sampling units (PSU) of the respondents are available. pairfam applied a two-stage sampling procedure: First, sample points were drawn by stratified random sampling. Second, persons of the target population whose main residence was located within the sample points were selected using population registers.

A more detailed description of the available macro indicators for the relationship and family panel can be found in Technical Paper No. 07. In addition, the MPIDR has published a technical report in which an example of how to link pairfam and geodata is described. If such a procedure is possible needs to be checked on a case-by-case basis.

Due to protection of data privacy, the macrodata-augmented dataset is not freely accessible. At the moment, analyses may only be conducted on a secured workstation at the project location in Cologne. Those who want to use the work station are kindly asked to register as guest researchers beforehand.
→ Guest Researchers

Questions regarding the content and use of macrodata or a stay as a guest researcher may be directed to our user support.
→ User Support 



The pairfam anchor data sets contain a number of variables on the survey process (variables int*). Moreover, the Paradata directory in the Scientic Use File contains three additional types of data sets (as of Release 14.1): the cumulative gross anchor data set, wave-specific anchor timestamps and duration, as well as metadata on the web-based survey of wave 14.

For more information on the paradata provided, please refer to chapter 4.5 of the Data Manual.


Qualitative Data in Wave 8: Reasons for "Stopping" the Desire to Have Children

As part of the anchor's interview of wave 8, a methodological innovation was implemented to gather additional information on the reasons to not having (further) children ("stopping"): Each anchor person who stated not wanting (additional) children was asked to explain the reasons in more detail without any given categories. The statements were recorded on tape (“CARI”) and transliterated afterwards. Alternatively, the respondents were asked to type their answer into the interviewer's computer by themselves. Subsequently, both the transliterated and self-inserted texts were coded by means of a program to analyze qualitative data (“MAXQDA”).

A detailed explanation of the data and the coding process is included in the Technical Paper No. 10 (in German language only).

The coded statements are available as a separate data set (anchor8_CARI) within the scope of the regular Scientific Use-Files.

The complete transcripts can be viewed and edited on request at particularly secured workstations at the project location in Cologne. Those who want to use this work station are kindly asked to register as guest researchers beforehand.
→ Guest Researchers


Harmonized Histories

The Harmonized Histories is an international comparative dataset for family research, created through harmonizing data from existing surveys into one common format. Created by the Non-Marital childbearing network, harmonization is now coordinated by the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI). An extract of the pairfam data forms part of the Harmonized Histories which concentrate on fertility and partnership histories, but also capture a number of demographic and socio-economic background variables.

An updated and extended version of the Harmonized Histories is forthcoming. This update will include harmonized pairfam data up to wave 12 (so far only 6 waves). Retrospective data from the Generations and Gender Surveys for other countries are complemented with prospective information from an additional survey wave. After registration and submission of an application form, a Scientific Use File is available here free of charge.