Welcome to the SOEPcompanion!

SOEP-Core is the centerpiece of the Socio-Economic Panel, a wide-ranging representative longitudinal study of private households in Germany, based at the German Institute for Economic Research, DIW Berlin. SOEP-Core was started in 1984, and in 1990—shortly after German reunification—it was enlarged to include a representative sample from East Germany. This feature makes the SOEP unique among household panel surveys worldwide. Every year since 1984, around 15,000 households and about 30,000 individuals have been surveyed by the SOEP’s fieldwork organization, Kantar Public Germany. The data provide information on every member of every household taking part in the survey. Respondents include Germans living in both the former East and West Germany, foreign citizens residing in Germany, recent immigrants, and a new sample of refugees added in 2016. Some of the many topics include household composition, education, occupational biographies, employment, earnings, health, and satisfaction indicators.

The SOEPcompanion describes the current version of the SOEP-Core data (v34) and introduces users to the different SOEP-Core data structures. It also provides applications in Stata as well as instructions on how to use our various documentation services. We plan to revise the information in the SOEPcompanion annually to continue providing users a comprehensive, up-to-date introductory understanding of the SOEP.

We know that starting to use any new dataset is difficult, and this is especially true of panel data given their complexity. We hope that this introduction will help. We always welcome any feedback or tips on how to improve our documentation.

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