Anchor and Alteri Data

As a multi-actor survey, pairfam strives 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. 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.

In addition to the anchor and alteri data (partner, child, parent and parenting data), further data sets are available, such as from the DemoDiff subsample, step-up respondents, generated data sets, macro data, and a teaching version of the main sample.


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.


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 in a supplemental data set makes the concatenation of additional regional indicators possible. The regional indicators currently available provide information on the following attributes:

  • type of residential neighborhood, building, street type, number of households within the street section (distinguishing between owners and renters), residential 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, 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, proportion 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 existence of the various Sinus Milieus®.

These locally based indicators are from the micromarketing company microm Consumer Marketing, a commercial provider engaged in group-oriented, dialog-oriented, and geographically targeted marketing.
→ 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.)

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.

Furthermore, the primary sampling units (PSU) of the respondents are available. pairfam applied a two-stage sampling procedure: First, 350 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.

Due to security considerations, the macrodata-augmented dataset is not freely accessible. At the moment, analyses may only be conducted on secured workstations at the project locations in Bremen, Cologne, Jena, and Munich. Those who want to use these work stations 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 


Teaching version

The pairfam data can also be used for teaching purposes. If students need to access the data, reduced datasets should be used to protect privacy. The reduced versions can be made accessible to students without completing the distribution form.

In the scientific use file we have provided the syntax required to produce this reduced version from the original data by generating new data sets that contain only 50% of the cases.



Upon request, the pairfam anchor gross data sets are available as well. These data sets contain the cases of the whole population for each wave who have been contacted for an additional interview, i.e. all anchor persons who took part in the previous wave's survey and did not object to being re-interviewed, or who missed out on the previous wave (non-contacts and soft refusals).

The following information on the fieldwork is available: number of contact attempts (personal, by phone, and by email), interviewer identification numbers, information on the place of residence, and a detailed breakdown of the final processing status (including different reasons for non-participation).

If you are interested in obtaining these data, please contact our user support.
→ User Support 


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).

As of Release 9.0, 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 locations in Bremen, Cologne, Jena, and Munich. Those who want to use these work stations are kindly asked to register as guest researchers beforehand.
→ Guest Researchers