PAIRFAM - The German Family Panel

The German Family Panel pairfam (“Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics“) is a multi-disciplinary, longitudinal study for researching partnership and family dynamics in Germany. Essential elements of the project are to provide user-friendly prepared data together with a comprehensive documentation and to release these data as scientific use file for the (inter)national and interdisciplinary scientific community.

The survey data is collected annually on a national level. The initial sample comprises more than 12,000 randomly selected individuals from the three birth cohorts 1971-73, 1981-83 and 1991-93. The multi-actor survey additionally includes the current partners of these young adults, up to three (step)parents and children at the age of 8 to 15 years. The resulting data base opens up new potentials for the analysis of partnership and family relations as they develop over time. 


The pairfam study focuses on the formation and the development of partnerships, processes of starting and expanding families, parenting and child development, and intergenerational relationships. The questions also cover various aspects from other areas of life and provide extensive socio-demographic information. Most of the instruments are implemented in every wave of the survey (core modules), some instruments are either used alternating in every second or third wave (in-depth modules) or only once (special modules). Kantar Public (formerly TNS Infratest Social Research) in Munich is the responsible survey agency that organizes the fieldwork and data collection.

The German Family Panel pairfam, launched in 2008, is a cooperative effort between the University of Bremen, Chemnitz University of Technology, University of Cologne, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), since 2010 it has been part of the DFG long-term program. Pairfam is accredited as a research data center by the German Data Forum (RatSWD).

PAIRFAM is currently carried out by the LMU Munich, the University of Bremen, the University of Cologne, and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Broad information and study documentation is provided on the pairfam website, which contains details on the origin and development of the study, announcements of upcoming events, and a regularly updated pairfam bibliography. In addition, the complete materials including codebooks, questionnaires, manuals, method reports, overviews of instruments, syntax files and instructions for getting started with pairfam data analysis, are available for download in German and in English.