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More Years, Better Lives

The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change

pairfam – The German Family Panel
pairfam – Das Beziehungs- und Familienpanel

Intergenerational Relationships
Relevance for this Topic
Country Germany
More Topics


Contact information

Nina Schumann, Kristin Hajek
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Konradstr. 6
D-80801 München
Email: support(at)

Timeliness, transparency

Data are collected between October and April. Time elapsed between completion of collection and publication of the data is about 12 months.

Type of data


Type of Study

Longitude survey: long-term study of the same sample

Cohort study

Data gathering method

Face-to-face interview (CAPI, PAPI)

Self-administered questionnaire


Access to data

Data and documents of the scientific use file are released for academic research and teaching on receipt of the data depositor’s written authorisation. For this purpose, the GESIS Data Archive obtains a written permission with specification of the user and the analysis intention (cf. The scientific use file is provided optionally as a downloadable file or on DVD. The documentation is freely accessible on the website.

Conditions of access

Data is released for academic research and teaching on receipt of the data depositor’s written authorisation. Depending on the user’s status, a standard CD-Rom is available for 25€ for academic users. Online download, however, is free of charge (cf.

After the application is approved by pairfam, the scientific use file will be provided directly by GESIS.

anonymised and fully documented microdata


All documents, variables, questionnaires etc. are available in German and English.


• 1st wave: Data collected from 09.2008 to 05.2009 and included a sample size of 16,145 units (12,402 anchor individuals + 3,743 partners) • 2nd wave: Data collected from 10.2009 to 04.2010 and included a sample size of 17,643 units (9,069 anchor individuals + 2,688 partners + 5,015 parents + 862 children) • 3rd wave: Data collected from 10.2010 to 04.2011 and included a sample size of 15,196 units (7,901 anchor individuals + 2,362 partners + 3,946 parents + 987 children) • 4th wave: Data collected from 10.2011 to 04.2012 and included a sample size of 13,672 units (7,049 anchor individuals + 2187 partners + 3352 parents + 1084 children) (Source: cf.


The data is stratified by age. The anchor individuals are all German-speaking (irrespective of nationality) living in private households in Germany, who were born within one of the following time periods: • born between 01.01.1991 and 31.12.1993 (Cohort 1) • born between 01.01.1981 and 31.12.1983 (Cohort 2) • born between 01.01.1971 and 31.12.1973 (Cohort 3)

Initial random sample of the registry was drawn using a two-stage sampling procedure. The aim was to represent the three cohorts with equal shares of the total sample: • first stage: municipalities of the Federal Republic of Germany were sampled (with a sampling probability proportional to the size of the target population in each municipality, proportionally distributed between East and West Germany); • second stage: individuals of the target population, whose main residence was in the selected municipalities, were sampled (systematic random sampling on the basis of local population registers). Anchor individuals are interviewed annually, using a non-monotonic design (respondents who dropped out in the last wave are re-contacted in the subsequent wave).

NUTS1 level. LAU2/NUTS5 level is provided at secured workstations at the three project locations in Bremen, Chemnitz, and Munich.

Persons from the three birth cohorts 1971-73, 1981-83, 1991-93 and their partners, parents and children

Persons from the three birth cohorts 1971-73, 1981-83, 1991-93.

Pairfam depicts intergenerational relationships at different points in time and pays particular attention to their exact and multifaceted portrayal. Biological parent-child relationships, adoptive constellations, stepparents- and parents-in-law relationships and grandchild-grandparent relationships are covered. Since the focus is on the anchor’s relationships to their biological, adoptive, and stepparents, these parent-child relationships are portrayed in more detail. All in all, the dataset allows for a description of central aspects of intergenerational relationships and the generations involved (e.g. intergenerational solidarity, intergenerational ambivalence) (
: 85). Aspects covered are, for example, frequency of contact, relationship quality and transmission processes between generations; material and immaterial intergenerational transfers; familial norms and children’s' expectations of their parents (cf.

• Arránz Becker, Oliver, & Anja Steinbach."Relations between Grandparents and Grandchildren in the Context of the Family System." Comparative Population Studies – Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft 37 (2012): 543-566. • Arránz Becker, Oliver, Veronika Salzburger, Nadia Lois, & Bernhard Nauck (in press), What Narrows the Stepgap? Closeness between Parents and Adult (Step) children in Germany, in: Journal of Marriage and Family 75. • Baykara-Krumme, Helen, Daniela Klaus, &Anja Steinbach. "Generationenbeziehungen in Deutschland. Ein Vergleich der Beziehungsqualität in einheimischen deutschen Familien, Familien mit türkischem Migrationshintergrund und Aussiedlerfamilien." (2011):259-286 in Partnerschaft, Fertilität und intergenerationale Beziehungen. Ergebnisse der ersten Welle des Beziehungs- und Familienpanels, edited by Josef Brüderl, Laura Castiglioni and Nina Schumann. Würzburg, Ergon Verlag. • Brüderl, Josef, Castiglioni, Laura, & Schumann, Nina (Hrsg.). Partnerschaft, Fertilität und intergenerationale Beziehungen - Ergebnisse der ersten Welle des Beziehungs- und Familienpanels. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag 2011. • Huinink, Johannes, Josef Brüderl, Bernhard Nauck, Sabine Walper, Laura Castiglioni, & Michael Feldhaus. Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam): Conceptual framework and design. In: Zeitschrift für Familienforschung 23 (2011): 77-101. • Klaus, Daniela, Bernhard Nauck, & Anja Steinbach. "Relationships to stepfathers and biological fathers in adulthood: Complementary, substitutional, or neglected?" Advances in Life Course Research 17 (2012): 156-167. For a list of all publications see


The pairfam data contains a wide range of the internationally harmonised standards such as ISCED, CASMIN, KldB, ISCO, EGP, ISEI, SIOPS, MPS, GCEE (cf.
: 21).

The German Family Panel offers the opportunity to deal with the relevance of contextual conditions (type of residential neighbourhood, socioeconomic character of the neighbourhood, mobility of the neighbourhood residents, dominant social milieu) by linking microdata from the pairfam survey with a selection of external macrodata. Due to security considerations, the macrodata-augmented dataset is not freely accessible. Analyses may only be conducted from secured workstations at the three project locations in Bremen, Chemnitz, and Munich (cf.

Data quality

Although the data are of high quality, known bugs and their fixes are provided in the newsletter and on the website under ‘changes to the data’:
. New releases always contain revised editions of former waves.

From the very beginning, a multi-actor design was realised. In wave 1, the anchors and their partners were interviewed. As scheduled, interviews with the anchor’s parents and his/her child (between the ages of 8 to 15) have been conducted since wave 2.

The consistency of terminology is guaranteed.


The German Family Panel (pairfam) is a multidisciplinary, longitudinal study on partnership and family dynamics and includes a wide variety of topics. The dataset offers unique opportunities for the analysis of partner and intergenerational relationships as they develop over the course of multiple life phases. The multi-actor design offers preponderant, full dyadic perspectives on a variety of intergenerational relationships between children, parents, grandparents, stepparents and parents-in-law of mainly grown-up anchors. All in all, all central aspects of intergenerational relationships can be described. The focus, however, is not on intergenerational relationships in very old age (oldest anchors born in 1971). Moreover, the dataset offers the opportunity to deal with the relevance of contextual conditions by linking microdata from the pairfam survey with a selection of external macrodata. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that pairfam is a very complex dataset with complex filters. However, this complexity can be tackled with the very good documentation of all instruments, as well as the do-files and syntaxes which are available on the pairfam homepage.

  • The information about this dataset was compiled by the author:
  • Andreas Motel-Klingebiel
  • (see Partners)