This year, the SOEP is celebrating a very special anniversary: since early February, more than 500 interviewers from our survey institute, TNS Infratest, have been ringing the doorbells of respondents across Germany for the 30th time in the history of the SOEP. The first wave, consisting of just over 6,000 households in West Germany, was surveyed in 1984. The original title of the survey, "Living in Germany," has remained. Many of the respondents from that first wave have remained true to the study as well; some of their children have households and children of their own and are now also part of the study, providing us with valuable long-term observations of the life course spanning multiple generations.
Oversampling of "guest worker families" in 1984 In its starting year, the SOEP was already innovative with regard to the inclusion of the foreign population of Germany in the sample. One goal in drawing the sample for the first wave was to ensure adequate coverage of immigrants. To achieve this goal, an oversampling of "guest worker families" was created. This new sample B, consisting of 1,400 households with an Italian, Spanish, Greek, (former) Yugoslavian, or Turkish household head was added in 1984. In 1994/95, another sample was incorporated into the SOEP comprising around 500 households with immigrants who had come to West Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain. With these SOEP subsamples, the groundwork was laid for the hundreds of papers on immigration and integration that have since been written and that can be found in our SOEPlit database. Additional samples have been added to the SOEP several times since then, but none of these focused on individuals with an immigrant background. This is now about to change: preparations are currently underway to integrate another large representative independent sample of households with an immigrant background into the SOEP.
New: IAB-SOEP immigrant sample in 2013
To draw the new sample of individuals and households with an immigrant background, the SOEP will be working for the first time in close cooperation with the Institute for Employment Research
(IAB) in Nuremberg. In this joint project, starting in early summer 2013, TNS Infratest will survey two separate samples, one from the IAB and one from the SOEP, at the same time and using the same questionnaire. The data collected will form the new IAB-SOEP immigrant sample, comprising more than 2,500 households with at least one household member who either is an immigrant or has an immigrant background (second-generation immigrant). In drawing the sample for the IABSOEP, we will again be oversampling specific nationalities and groups of immigrants based on the Integrated Employment Biographies Sample (IEBS) of the German Federal Employment Agency. The sample will consist of households with immigrants from Poland, Romania, the CIS, Turkey, former Yugoslavia, as well as some European countries (Italy, Spain, Greece) and Arab/Muslim countries.
In addition to this innovation in sampling, we will also be attempting to obtain permission from a random sample of respondents to link the survey data to the IEBS data at IAB. This methodologically innovative additional project, entitled SOEP-RECLINK, has been granted three years of funding under the Leibniz Association's "Pact for Research and Innovation." It will open up altogether new potentials for research and policy advice, and will also be of great significance for the research infrastructure in Germany.