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Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (PAIRFAM): Conceptual framework and design


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This article introduces the DFG-funded “Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics” (pairfam) study, which was initiated to provide an extended empirical basis for advances in family research. Within the context of challenges in couples and family research, we address the major substantive fields covered by the pairfam panel: couple dynamics and partnership stability, childbearing, parenting and child development, and intergenerational relationships. Then we present the conceptual framework and survey design of pairfam. The panel started with about 4,000 respondents (anchors) in each of three birth cohorts: 1991-1993, 1981-1983, and 1971-1973. The panel also includes anchors’ partners. From the second wave onwards parents and children of anchors are included. The policy of pairfam with regard to the provision of scientific use files and data distribution are discussed in the concluding remarks. Zusammenfassung Dieser Beitrag stellt das deutsche Beziehungs- und Familienpanel (pairfam) vor, das eine empirische Basis für Fortschritte in der Beziehungsund Familienforschung bieten soll. Vor dem Hintergrund zentraler Herausforderungen in der Partnerschafts- und Familienforschung werden Themenschwerpunkte, der konzeptuelle Rahmen und das Design des pairfam-Projekts vorgestellt. Inhaltlich fokussiert werden Fragen der Aufnahme, Gestaltung und Beendigung von Partnerschaftsbeziehungen, Elternschaftsentscheidungen bei Familiengründung und -erweiterung, Erziehung und Eltern-Kind-Beziehungen sowie Intergenerationenbeziehungen. Befragungsteilnehmer waren in der ersten Erhebungswelle je rund 4.000 Jugendliche (geboren 1991-93), junge Erwachsene (geboren 1981-83) und Erwachsene im mittleren Lebensalter (geboren 1971-73) sowie nach Möglichkeit auch deren Partner/in. Ab der zweiten Erhebungswelle werden auch Eltern und Kinder einbezogen. Am Ende des Beitrages werden einige Angaben zur Distribution der Daten als scientific use file gemacht.
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Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., 2011, Heft 1 – Journal of Family Research
Johannes Huinink, Josef Brüderl, Bernhard Nauck, Sabine Walper,
Laura Castiglioni & Michael Feldhaus
Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and
Family Dynamics (pairfam): Conceptual framework
and design
Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam):
konzeptioneller Rahmen und Forschungsdesign
This article introduces the DFG-funded “Panel
Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family
Dynamics” (pairfam) study, which was initiate
to provide an extended empirical basis for ad-
vances in family research. Within the context o
challenges in couples and family research, we ad-
dress the major substantive fields covered by the
anel: couple dynamics and partnership
stability, childbearing, parenting and child devel-
opment, and intergenerational relationships. Then
we present the conceptual framework and survey
design of pairfam. The panel started with about
4,000 respondents (anchors) in each of three birth
cohorts: 1991-1993, 1981-1983, and 1971-1973.
The panel also includes anchors’ partners. Fro
the second wave onwards parents and children o
anchors are included. The policy of pairfam wit
regard to the provision of scientific use files an
data distribution are discussed in the concluding
Key words: children, couples, family research,
Germany, panel study, pairfam, parenting, part-
Dieser Beitrag stellt das deutsche Beziehungs-
und Familienpanel (pairfam) vor, das eine empi-
rische Basis für Fortschritte in der Beziehungs-
und Familienforschung bieten soll. Vor de
Hintergrund zentraler Herausforderungen in de
Partnerschafts- und Familienforschung werde
Themenschwerpunkte, der konzeptuelle Rahmen
und das Design des pairfam-Projekts vorgestellt.
Inhaltlich fokussiert werden Fragen der Auf-
nahme, Gestaltung und Beendigung von Partner-
schaftsbeziehungen, Elternschaftsentscheidungen
bei Familiengründung und -erweiterung, Erzie-
hung und Eltern-Kind-Beziehungen sowie Inter-
generationenbeziehungen. Befragungsteilnehme
waren in der ersten Erhebungswelle je rund 4.000
Jugendliche (geboren 1991-93), junge Erwachse-
ne (geboren 1981-83) und Erwachsene im mittle-
ren Lebensalter (geboren 1971-73) sowie nac
Möglichkeit auch deren Partner/in. Ab der zwei-
ten Erhebungswelle werden auch Eltern und Kin-
der einbezogen. Am Ende des Beitrages werde
einige Angaben zur Distribution der Daten als
scientific use file gemacht.
Schlagwörter: Erziehung, Familienforschung,
Deutschland, Kinder, Paarbeziehungen, Panelstu-
die, pairfam, Partnerschaft
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
1. Introduction
In the past decades, considerable progress has been made in family research. Sociological
and demographic research that monitors changing family forms and living arrangements
has gone beyond household boundaries in order to capture the complexity of multi-local
family systems as they arise from migration, mobility, divorce, and intergenerational links
across households (Peuckert 2008). Economic and sociological research not only points to
the institutional and socioeconomic conditions of family life, but also addresses the ex-
change of support within family networks and the negotiation of limited resources within
family systems (Conger/Rueter/Conger 2000; Kohli/Albertini/Künemund 2010). Psycho-
logical research provides a rich picture of family dynamics as evolving from family
members’ mutual expectations, individual cognitions, emotions, and behaviors and vice
versa (Bodenmann 2006; Walsh 2003). And medical research along with other disciplines
seeks to shed light on links between family risks and resources, health-related life styles,
and family members’ well-being.
Yet, the complexity of linkages across the domains of family life and levels of analy-
sis is not fully understood. The need for interdisciplinary cooperation has been increas-
ingly recognized as a powerful tool to understand the complexity of family development
and family dynamics in social, legal, economic, and cultural contexts and to shed light on
the interplay between individual experiences, dispositions, behaviors, and well-being as
they mutually influence each other in the context of family.
The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the main features of the German
“Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics” (pairfam) study, which
shall provide an empirical basis for achieving further improvements in understanding
couples and family dynamics. The study is based on the notion that progress in family re-
search strongly depends on sharing and conjoining expertise developed in the various dis-
ciplines, developing integrative theoretical perspectives, and employing longitudinal ap-
proaches with a large, representative data base and a broad array of information. So far,
large-scale longitudinal studies on union formation and dissolution, fertility, or
intergenerational relationships mainly focus on economic and socio-structural variables
and pay less attention to psychological factors that would allow family-related decision-
making processes to be modeled in detail. While psychological research does generate
rich data, these are often derived from small samples or within study designs that fail to
integrate socio-structural variables sufficiently.
Employing a prospective design that covers the age span from adolescence to late
adulthood and that comprises multiple generations, the project will allow investigation into
developmental issues, differential trajectories in relationship development, and mutual in-
fluences among members. It will also allow investigators to address a variety of contextual
conditions in the proximal and distal environment. The pairfam project has begun collecting
a wide range of data on an annual basis for three age cohorts, starting in 2008/2009 with a
sample of 12,400 participants in adolescence, young adulthood, and middle adulthood. A
joint initiative of a group of family researchers from various disciplines made this possible.
In 2004, the Priority Program 1161 “Beziehungs- und Familienentwicklung [Relationship
and Family Development],” funded by the German Research Foundation, supported the in-
frastructure needed to prepare this new German panel study. Between 2004 and 2008, ap-
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 79
propriate instruments for data collection as well as the conceptual framework of pairfam
were developed (Feldhaus/Huinink 2008; Walper/ Wendt 2010).
In the following sections, we first identify some challenges in family research, from
which we derived a research agenda in four major fields of inquiry. This agenda guided
the design of the pairfam panel. Then we present the conceptual framework of pairfam,
describe the contents of the panel and explain the complex multi-actor design of the study
in greater detail. The policy of pairfam with regard to the provision of scientific use files
and the data distribution are discussed in the concluding remarks.
2. Challenges of current research on couples and family dynamics
Families are far from being a clear-cut set of people, and even couples have become less
“visible”, given decreased institutionalization of partnership relations. While this already
poses considerable demands for partnership and family research, even more complexity
results from the multi-faceted interplay of couples and family dynamics with individual
development, activities in other life domains, social context, and societal conditions that
frame the pursuit of subjective well-being during the life course (Huinink 2005; Seltzer et
al. 2005). In order to describe the starting point for implementing the pairfam panel, we
address the following five kinds of challenges that need to be overcome in order to
achieve further progress in couples and family dynamics research.
1. Descriptive demands: Given the expanding variety in living arrangements and family
structures over time, the descriptive information available from demographic family
research has to be updated and differentiated steadily so as to capture continuity and
change in relationship arrangements. More specifically, differentiated descriptive in-
formation has to account for less institutionalized types of relationships such as un-
married partners in “living apart together” arrangements, stepchild relations, grand-
parent-child relations, non-normative types of relationships (e.g. homosexual partner-
ship), and diversified patterns of family roles including children’s relationships with
any number of non-traditional parental figures such as a parent not living in the
household, married and unmarried stepparents, or a single parent’s new partner. It must
also account for patterns of couple and family relationships that span stages of rela-
tionship development, different households, or geographic distance due to the mobil-
ity of partners and family members.
2. Individual perspectives on linked lives: While family members typically hold individ-
ual views regarding their relationships, research on couples and families needs also to
include partners’ perspectives. This is important not only to be able to identify shared
as well as distinct or even contradictory experiences, but also to allow for a fuller un-
derstanding of mutual interdependence in decision making and action. Elder’s con-
cept of “linked lives” (Elder 1994) alerts us to the fact that family members’ lives are
interdependent. Individual actors affect each other through their behavior, be it as
partners, as siblings, or as parents in relationships with young or adult children. Only
multi-actor designs and adequate methodological approaches (e.g. dyadic data analy-
ses) are suited to capture these processes adequately.
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
3. Cross-domain effects: Family life is closely intertwined with other domains of the life
course. Families are confronted with expectations in the labor market and school set-
tings. Family life may also set the stage for social participation in other societal con-
texts, and it has long been recognized as a major context for recreation. To understand
couples and family dynamics as part of the multidimensional life course more ade-
quately, special attention needs to be paid to the likely mutual influences between
these spheres as well as to the logic of context-bound individual action in the pursuit
of individual goals. More specifically, it is necessary to understand how actors allo-
cate their resources and engagement in these fields of activities (e.g. family life and
work), aiming to achieve and sustain subjective well-being. Selective investments in
close relationships and other domains of life may compete, support, or complement
each other. Alternatively, they may substitute for each other, as when friendship net-
works or social relations at work substitute for strong family ties. However, we still
know very little about whether family benefits can be substituted, as these are as-
sumed to provide particularly close, personal, and authentic interactions (Huinink
4. Selection and adaptation across the life course. Family processes are typically recur-
sive, and mechanisms of selection and adaptation make it difficult to specify cause-
effect relationships within them. They are, however, of essential importance as they
can be found across the entire life course (Lesthaeghe 2002). For example, values and
intentions may influence the probability of family-related transitions such as marriage
or childbearing (selection), while at the same time such transitions probably reshape
the actors’ family-related values (adaptation). Individual norms, attitudes, and cogni-
tive scripts of the future life course – which typically emerge in earlier life phases
are particularly likely candidates for selective pattern determination (Mayer 2009).
5. Multilevel context and social embeddedness: Just as family life is linked to other do-
mains of life, families are embedded in the larger social, economic, and cultural con-
texts. These affect their structure and functioning. The multilevel embeddedness of
union and family development is an essential characteristic that must be addressed in
order to adequately understand the dynamics of couple and family relations. Studies
investigating the effects of economic conditions and societal institutions on couples
and family dynamics in national, regional, or local environments are important. The
same holds true for the embeddedness of relationships (for example, couples or par-
ent-child dyads) in social and kinship networks.
Focusing on these more conceptual issues, the next section will highlight aspects of our
agenda with regard to the four major substantive fields of couples and family research
covered by the pairfam panel: (1) couple dynamics and partnership stability, (2) child-
bearing, (3) parenting and child development, and (4) intergenerational relationships.
These research fields address the major domains of family life that are of particular sali-
ence due to recent demographic changes such as reduced marriage rates, increased co-
habitation, high rates of separation/divorce, reduced fertility rates, increased unmarried
childbearing and the increased longevity that has lengthened the shared life span between
generations. Furthermore, understanding the causes and consequences of diverse patterns
of relationship quality for the well-being of children, adolescents, and adults is essential
for policy planning and designing appropriate interventions.
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 81
3. Research isues in the major content domains of
3.1 Couple dynamics and partnership stability
Patterns of union formation and the dynamics of couple relationships have changed con-
siderably during the last 50 years (see Walper/Wendt 2010b). Romantic involvement
starts earlier in the life course while marriage has become postponed if not replaced by
unmarried unions (Hoehn/Avramov/Kotovska, 2008). As the latter have become more
prevalent across all age groups and as mobility demands increased, hybrid forms of living
arrangements involving two (or more) households have gained relevance. Partnership sta-
bility has decreased, and even after separation former partners are expected to cooperate
for the sake of co-parenting (Pryor/Rodgers 2001; Smart/Neale/Wade 2001). Many of
these changes in couple relationships are not yet adequately reflected in current demo-
graphic descriptions. For example, although increasing attention is being paid to com-
muting couples and the diverse arrangements of “living apart together” in partnerships
(Schneider/Limmer/Ruckdeschel 2002; Schneider/Meil 2009), the complex spatial and
temporal structures of such arrangements still have to be spelled out. Accordingly, there is
a need for updating our descriptive knowledge about couples’ living arrangements, em-
ploying more refined information particularly with respect to mobility regimes and paying
attention to how these relate to trajectories of couple development as they may be identi-
fied in longitudinal perspective (Brüderl 2004).
Longitudinal analyses are indispensable not only for identifying more or less typical
trajectories of institutionalization in partnership development but also for addressing is-
sues of causation. In partnership research, additional challenges arise from the notion that
partners’ life courses have to be “co-organized” (Blossfeld/Drobnič 2002). Each partner’s
attitudes and behaviors are context for the other’s decisions and vice versa (linked lives).
In order to shed light on how partners affect each other (with regard to educational or oc-
cupational development or to family planning, for example), coupled life courses must be
analyzed with appropriate dyadic data and related statistical models (Lyons/Sayer 2005).
So far, reverse influences of partners on each other have only begun to be more broadly
addressed by current research.
Psychological analyses suggest that the following factors play major roles in partner-
ship quality and stability: previous relationship experiences, personal resources and skills
in navigating through emotionally charged social encounters, the kinds of causes each
partner attributes to the other’s behavior, both partners’ conflict tactics, and their dyadic
stress management (Karney/Bradbury 1995; Bodenmann et al. 2007; Fincham 2004; Ran-
dall & Bodenmann 2009). More recently, the traditional focus on destructive forces in
relationships has shifted to a focus on repair mechanisms which allow couples to over-
come crises and promote resilience in their relationships. Such repair mechanisms in-
clude, for example, those stemming from religious beliefs or partners’ willingness to for-
give and make sacrifices (Fincham/Stanley/Beach 2007). While it would seem timely to
bridge such micro-level perspectives with the previously outlined perspectives on macro-
level trends, suitable interdisciplinary approaches are slow to rise. Yet, they seem most
promising for allowing adequately broad and at the same time differentiated analyses of
how partnership relations develop, be it with regard to the quality of the relationship, to
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
issues of labor division, to the internal power distribution, or to the stability of the rela-
tionship (Arránz Becker 2008).
One guiding assumption is that cross-domain effects increase the cost of living in an in-
timate relationship or in a marriage in modern welfare societies (Peuckert 2008). Success-
fully combining commitment in an intimate relationship with individual flexibility, auton-
omy, and mobility in one’s career or other domains of the life course is difficult. Although
intimate relationships might even gain relevance for individual well-being, actors seem less
likely to invest in partnership relations. Rather, they tend to minimize the restrictions that
arise from the binding forces of intimate relationships. For most individuals up to mid-
adulthood, living alone has become more attractive (Lengerer/Klein 2007), most likely be-
cause normative barriers have been lowered and the instrumental benefits of common
householding have decreased. In order to understand the logic of such choices, not only
must general social trends be outlined, but conflicting life goals and options for replacing
the social benefits typically derived from long-term partnerships have to be identified.
While such conflicting goals and competing options may contribute to the decline of mar-
riage and the instability of unions, they do not guide all social groups or individuals in the
same manner. For example, regional differences in marriage behavior suggest that cultural
factors still contribute to diversity in union formation and development (Hank 2003b).
To pay adequate attention to the multilevel contexts of union formation and particu-
larly of couple development is a challenging task that has not been well resolved so far –
in part due to the fact that sociological research in this field is quite rare (Hill 2004). Mar-
riage and partner markets have been restructured socially and include new arenas of
meeting and mating. Living conditions as well as expectations regarding satisfying rela-
tionships have changed (Amato/Booth/Johnson 2007), creating new disparities between
reality and expectations. For example, the now widely-accepted egalitarianism pertaining
to gender norms is hard to reconcile with the remarkably stable gender roles in the divi-
sion of household tasks as observable in parents’ every day life in Germany
(Huinink/Roehler 2005). In seeking to understand the decisions involved in partnership
formation and couple development, attention must be paid to the larger context of chang-
ing partner markets and today’s life course regimes, but also to how these intersect with
both partners’ individual dispositions and opportunities.
With respect to relevant biographical experiences in the family context, some prog-
ress has been made in identifying aspects of intergenerational transmission in the areas of
partnership quality and stability (Amato 1996; Diekmann/Engelhardt 1999; Diefenbach
2000). This is particularly true for attachment research (Grossmann/Grossmann 2004;
Miculincer/Goodman 2006). However, it is not yet fully understood to what extent and
through which processes the organization of one’s intimate relationships is guided by
early experiences and how these compete with current experiences and events in various
life domains. For example, issues of gender constellation in intergenerational role learn-
ing seem to be significant, but these need to be explored in further detail (Walper et al.
2008). To understand the influence of biographical experiences in other relationship con-
texts, a broad array of information about past and present relationships with parents,
friends, and previous romantic partners has to be provided prospectively.
The pairfam project seeks to enable such analyses by taking a differentiated look not
only at various aspects of partnership quality (intimacy, autonomy, emotional security
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 83
etc.) or of subjective quality, dyadic coping, and conflict solving behavior as experienced
and played out by both partners. It also focuses on personal expectations in terms of hopes
and fears regarding a partnership, personality and skills, social networks and the quality
of other significant relationships.
3.2 Childbearing
Processes of family formation and extension are embedded in a large variety of living ar-
rangements and social network structures. Partnership and family transitions seem to fol-
low pluralized patterns as well (Peuckert 2008). The detailed description of those patterns
over the life course and in cohorts comparison is of substantial relevance. As in the case
of couples dynamics, more differentiated information is needed to provide a better view
of the variability of family structures in the future. In the analysis of fertility-related deci-
sion making (intention and timing), individual expectations about the welfare gains and
losses associated with having children as compared to other options of achieving and
sustaining subjective well-being over the life course have to be considered (Liefbroer
2005; Huinink/Feldhaus 2009). However, fertility decisions usually require two individu-
als to agree (linked lives). If couples do not share childbearing orientations, family forma-
tion or enlargement is likely to be postponed (Kurz 2005; Miller/Severy/Pasta 2004). Dy-
adic models of the interdependence of couples’ fertility orientations help us to understand
the relevance of this issue (Stein/Pavetic 2008).
Parenthood competes with other options in the life course such as pursuing a career,
material prosperity, and personal autonomy. Cross-domain effects have to be expected.
The relationship between education or labor force participation and family formation
has already been studied extensively, but it is still not completely understood (Rindfuss/
Brewster 1996; Schröder/Brüderl 2008; Schröder/Pforr 2009). Research on the relation-
ship between unemployment of women and fertility shows inconsistent or even contra-
dictory findings (Kreyenfeld 2003; Brose 2008). However, a man’s or woman’s deci-
sion to have a child depends on their expectations regarding the possibility of reconcil-
ing family activities with activities in other life domains. An important question is to
what degree individuals would reduce their engagement in other life domains in favor
of raising children and vice versa. This refers to the general question of substitution and
complementarity in personal investments, which has been addressed only rarely so far
(Diewald 2003).
Personal dispositions and normative aspects of decisions regarding parenthood are
highly relevant factors (Nauck 2007). Couples may neglect the long-term consequences of
parenthood and do not compare the costs and benefits of children to other domains of
welfare production in a purely rational manner. Personal values and preferences regarding
marriage, parenthood, and activities in other domains of the life course presumably matter
a great deal. However, the significance of value orientations and attitudes for family-
related decisions has not been as thoroughly studied as have socio-structural factors such
as social status or education. In particular, value-related selection effects and value adap-
tation cannot not be distinguished without prospective data. Those kinds of analyses re-
quire appropriate panel data (Lesthaeghe 2002).
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
Theories agree that in modern societies the psychological-emotional benefits of hav-
ing children (affect, identity, and generativity) dominate other kinds of benefits (Nauck
2001). Accordingly, parents should be motivated to invest more in the “quality” of chil-
dren (e.g. education) than in the “quantity” of children (Becker 1991), even as aspirations
in regard to children’s “quantity” should rise. At the same time, couples only consider be-
coming parents if they feel mature enough to take over responsibility for children (Mül-
ler-Burhop 2008). In addition, certainty about one’s future biography should be of major
relevance. Questions of why and when partners do or do not feel ready for children have
yet to be answered (Liefbroer 2009). Couples may repeatedly put off the decision to have
a child. By doing so, they might reduce both aspiration levels and their anticipation of the
consequences of parenthood as they get older and start hearing their biological clock
ticking. Or they “slide” into voluntary or involuntary childlessness and adapt their value
system in an affirmative way. The question of involuntarily childlessness because of medi-
cal reasons is assumed to gain relevance (Stöbel-Richter et al. 2008; Zeller-Steinbrich
2008). Large scale longitudinal studies on this complex aspects are still missing.
The multilevel context of decisions for parenthood has been shown to be decisive in
many comparative studies. In countries with strong policies favoring the reconciliation of
work and family, different patterns of family formation are found than in countries like
Germany that have weaker policies. However, cultural factors may be just as important
for fertility-related behavior as are other dimensions (Lesthaege/Surkyn 2004). In par-
ticular, regional differences in birth rates may reflect differences in culturally framed
family-related decision making. There has been little research on this topic (Hank 2001,
2003a, 2003b). Finally, the aspect of embeddedness in social networks and kin structures
has to be considered. They may provide financial or emotional support or offer help for
child care. Network partners communicate special norms and values and exemplify a spe-
cial life style (Bernardi/Keim/von der Lippe 2007; Bühler 2008). This means that social
networks may strengthen or reduce aspiration levels. They may affect the hopes and fears
related to parenthood or put pressure on potential parents. Up to now, the influence of so-
cial networks on fertility decisions has been mainly observed in small-scale qualitative
studies or with cross-sectional data.
3.3 Parenting and child development
Parenting is considered to be the most influential factor in children’s social development
(Franiek/Reichle 2007; Gabriel/Bodenmann 2006; Petermann/Petermann 2006; Reichle/
Gloger-Tippelt 2007). Theoretically, parenting is seen as goal-oriented action that serves
to encourage desired behavior patterns and dispositions (or hinder or reduce undesired
behaviors and dispositions) in the child (Fuhrer 2005). This focus is most common in re-
search concerning parenting goals. With respect to description, much attention has been
paid to parents’ child-rearing goals and how these goals have changed in the general
population or in certain subgroups. Related studies demonstrate a change process within
which conformity values take a backseat while values of self-actualization focusing on
children’s autonomy and self-determination take on an increasingly prominent position
(Hillmann 2003). However, closer analyses of causal processes based on longitudinal data
are rare (Schneewind/Ruppert 1995). Given that most data on parenting goals are cross-
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 85
sectional, little is known about relevant factors and experiences which may guide the ad-
aptation of goals to external conditions, the partner’s parenting values, other social influ-
ences or interaction with the child in question.
Most research on parenting goals disregards the dyadic context of parenting (linked
lives) and provides little insight in adaptive processes among couples as they develop
shared parenting strategies. Surprisingly, the role of interparental cooperation and co-
parenting has long been neglected. While issues of co-parenting have a somewhat longer
tradition in research on divorced families, only recently have they been more intensively
studied for nuclear families (Teubert/Pinquart 2009). Furthermore, the approaches taken
in this research area are mostly narrowly focused and rarely allow comparisons with val-
ues in other life domains.
A prominent issue in research on parenting is the identification of core dimensions of
parents’ behavior and attitudes regarding children that influence children’s well-being in a
more or less stable manner (Skinner/Johnson/Snyder 2005). Most parsimoniously, the two
dimensions of warmth and control have been identified as relevant (Maccoby/ Martin 1983).
Based on them, four parenting styles are distinguished: authoritative, authoritarian, indul-
gent, and neglectful (Lamborn et al. 1993). While much international research informs us
about their relative prevalence, the predictors of different styles, and their relevant outcomes
for children, the respective knowledge base in Germany is still limited. There is consider-
able need for large-scale studies on parenting providing differentiated insight into parents’
goals and practices. This holds true even more so with respect to fathers. Fathers have re-
ceived increased attention in empirical research internationally for decades (Tamis-LeMon-
da/Cabrera 2002), but comparable studies on fathers’ roles in parenting have only recently
been launched in Germany (Fthenakis/Minsel 2002; Walper/Goedde 2005; Zerle/Krok
While major interest in research on parenting is devoted to child outcomes, these are
not easy to identify because the quality of parenting and children’s development share
many joint causes. Parenting is not a one-way-street. Rather, it is a product of children’s
display of behavior and of parents’ interpretation of this behavior (Beelmann et al. 2007;
Burke/Pardini/Loeber 2008). As is the case for many family processes, selection and ad-
aptation play a role. For example, aggressive children invite harsher parenting and harsh
parenting contributes to children’s aggressive dispositions (Hoeve et al. 2009; Lösel et al.
2007). Accordingly, any efforts to identify effects of parenting on child development have
to take into account reciprocal effects and common factors which influence the quality of
parenting as well as child outcomes.
Practices used by parents in daily life are shaped by situational factors, for instance
contextual stressors that strain parental well-being and affect parenting skills. Examples for
the social embeddedness of parenting are provided by studies about the effects of economic
problems and partnership conflicts. There is strong empirical support for the salience of
economic stress for family relations, parenting, and children’s development (Gershoff et al.
2007; Walper 2008). With respect to the family context of parenting, many studies have
pointed out that a low quality of the relationship between mother and father – high interpar-
ental conflict in particular – is a major factor undermining the quality of parenting and trig-
gering problem behavior and emotional strain in children (Buehler/Gerard 2002; Cui/Con-
ger 2008; Davies et al. 2002; Hetherington 2006; Walper/Beckh 2006). Given the increasing
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
prevalence of single parenting, co-parenting after separation/divorce and stepparenting,
variations in family structure need to be considered (Hetherington/Stanley-Hagan 2002;
Walper/Krey 2009). Furthermore, a multi-generational view on parenting that embeds par-
ent-child relationships in the larger context of intergenerational affection and power rela-
tionships deserves more attention. These questions shall be addressed in pairfam.
Parents’ involvement in the parenting role is likely to vary with restrictions they en-
counter. These result not only from personal and social resources or from children’s de-
mands and individual needs but also from competing demands and goals in other domains
of life. Melvin Kohn (1969) pointed out how values derived from work experiences feed
into parenting. This is a notable example of cross-domain-effects. More recent studies on
dual-earner families also address cross-domain effects with respect to work-life balance,
indicating that parenting may not only compete with job-related demands but may also
have positive, facilitative effects in the domain of work (O’Driscoll/Brough/Kalliath
2006). There is a need for more longitudinal studies enabling research to disentangle the
complex relationship between parenting and engagement in other life domains.
3.4 Intergenerational relationships
Kinship and intergenerational relationships are structured and organized spatially and tem-
porally in an increasingly complex manner. With regard to its impact on intergenerational
relationships, the dramatic social change in intimate relationships is not yet captured by so-
cial reporting and creates a significant demand for descriptions of new types of relation-
ships across generations (Teachman/Tedrow 2008). For example, almost nothing is known
about grandparent-grandchildren relationships with children in gay/lesbian relationships.
Similarly, little do we know about the stability of grandparenting relationships linking
children with the parents of a mother or father who no longer lives in the child’s household
(Ganong 2008). Further, little is known about the incidence of multiple grand-parenthood
due to sequential cohabitation or remarriage. Even basic information about the incidence of
stepparenthood and the stability of intergenerational relationships after separation and di-
vorce, both for parents and offspring, are difficult to obtain, as is information about
intergenerational relationships across national boundaries in immigrant families or in eth-
nically diverse marriages. Finally, family relationships that transcend the parent-child
dyad, especially the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, have been given
more attention only recently (Hank/Buber 2009; Harper 2005; Höpflinger/Hummel/
Hugentobler 2006; Mueller/Elder 2003). Studies in this vein investigate the question of
whether the form of grandparent-grandchildren relationships is comparable to the relation-
ships of parents and children (Hoff 2007), or they analyze to what extent (different) gen-
erations are mutually entwined (Friedman/Hechter/Kreager 2008).
Intergenerational relations are understood as any form of contact and exchange be-
tween generations in one family. Relationship-relevant decisions and behavior have to be
modeled as interdependent, as both generations function as the primary environment for
the other. Both perspectives have to be included (linked lives). The basic assumption of
this theoretical approach for the explanation of intergenerational relationships between
adults is that both parties hold mutual expectations. These expectations stem in turn from
the shared history of the relationship and the actual situation of both parties. Expectations
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 87
mirror the need for the optimal production of welfare, which does not, however, neces-
sarily contradict the needs and wishes of the other party. Intergenerational relationships
are mainly studied using the concept of solidarity (Bengtson 2001) or in the context of
work on intergenerational ambivalence (Pillemer/ Lüscher 2004). However, the various
types of interaction between generations are not always positive. Intergenerational rela-
tions can also be characterized as both positive and negative or merely as ambivalent. In
any case, intergenerational expectations significantly determine relationship behavior.
The relationship between parents and children is perhaps one of the most long-lasting
relationships in human life. It covers very different stages of life. Against this backdrop, it
can be assumed that past experiences and events have an impact on the later form of this
relationship (selection and adaptation). Temporal path dependency should be of particular
importance: the intergenerational relationship at a particular point in time presumably is
significantly shaped by past events, experiences and behavior in this relationship. Hence,
the effect of intergenerational reciprocity is investigated most frequently (Silverstein et al.
2002). The focus of this research is also on the effect of transitions in the life course – most
especially the separation of parents – on the quality of parent-child relationships (Aquilino
2005; Kalmijn 2008; Kopp/Steinbach 2009) or on the significance of the relationship expe-
rience in early childhood for later forms of intergenerational relationships (Cicirelli 1993;
Merz/Schuengel/Schulze 2008; Schwarz/Trommsdorff 2005) or for value transmissions.
Typical for intergenerational relationships is that they follow a standard sequence of
(a)symmetrical stages: While children in their first years are entirely dependent on their par-
ents, after a phase of resource-and-support equilibrium, a trend towards a reverse relation-
ship sets in. Adult children become the main persons of contact and care for their aging par-
ents. Obviously, longitudinal data are indispensable for the appropriate assessment and ex-
planation of what intergenerational relationships are and how they develop.
Despite demographic changes in modern societies, intergenerational relationships are
of particularly great significance for family members and are obviously a key mechanism
of social integration in functionally differentiated societies. Comparative cultural studies
considering different aspects of the multilevel context of intergenerational relationships
have been able to demonstrate the impact of institutionalized family structures on their
forms (Klaus 2007; Nauck 2009). Based on such findings, those studies gain relevance
that inquire into the differences of intergenerational relationships between migrant and
native families or into differences between migrant families of different origin and degree
of integration. Aside from different cultural backgrounds, various aspects of international
migration and the patterns of permanent or temporary separation of generations it causes
play an important role in this context.
4. The conceptual framework of
To study issues of couples and family development we suggest a broad conceptual
framework from the life course perspective that needs to be augmented by substantive
middle-range theories and to be open to different disciplinary perspectives as they prove
useful in elaborating the processes involved. Combining economic, sociological, and psy-
chological perspectives, this approach is based on the assumption of cognitively, emo-
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
tionally, and culturally bounded rationality (Boudon 2003). According to this individuals
try to optimize their subjective well-being over their life course. The life course is per-
ceived as a complex social process (Heinz et al. 2009) which is embedded in a multi-level
structure of social dynamics and individual development, consists of different but highly
interrelated life domains (multi-dimensionality) and is influenced by the experiences and
decisions of the past (path dependency and trajectories).
With regard to subjective well-being, we differentiate between physical-material and
social well-being (Esser 1999; Lindenberg 2001; Nauck 2001; Ryan 1991). Physical-ma-
terial well-being relates to physical (health, material security, avoidance of pain, and sti-
mulation) as well as to psychological needs (emotional well-being, autonomy, and com-
petence). Social well-being relates to the need for social approval (e.g. status), behavioral
confirmation, and affection in relation to others (the need for relatedness). In order to sat-
isfy needs in the basic dimensions of subjective well-being, humans pursue individual in-
strumental goals. The pursuit or the maintenance of biographical states like satisfactory
intimate relationships or parenthood, are examples of instrumental goals. Close relation-
ships are instrumental for gaining affection, stimulation, or comfort. Furthermore, objec-
tives can be identified, especially those related to resource acquisition, which are prereq-
uisites for reaching other instrumental goals. For example, a high income is a goal for
satisfying needs like comfort. In order to have a high income, however, an appropriate job
or a specific kind of education or personal skill is needed, etc.
Attaining instrumental goals calls for the investment of time, money, goods, and
physical effort. One can differentiate between direct costs (investment costs and costs for
the maintenance of certain biographical statuses like the quality of a close relationship),
indirect costs (opportunity costs), as well as follow-up costs (e.g. costs resulting from the
partner’s or children’s behavior). Opportunity costs are conceived as foregone benefits of
well-being. Investing in one goal usually means that one cannot invest in other goals and
get other benefits.
Individuals act in a given situation structured by opportunities and restrictions such as
cultural, social, political, and economic conditions (opportunity structure). These factors
influence the scope of action on different levels. On the macro-level we consider for ex-
ample the demographic structure of the society, cultural patterns, social institutions, legal
regulations, regional contexts, the economic situation, the labor market, infrastructure,
and effects of social policy. On the meso-level, we consider for example the embedded-
ness in social networks. The relationship with a partner is assumed to be a particular part
of the social environment of a person. For analyzing the development of intimate relation-
ships, a focus on just one partner is insufficient for revealing the complex interaction be-
tween partners and generations. Aspects of the household, the couple’s relationship, and
family lend structure to the situation. On the micro-level, individual resources like time,
income, education, physical abilities, cognitive and social competence, health, etc. influ-
ence the possibilities for goal attainment. Personal dispositions (norms and values, pref-
erences or aspirations on dimensions of well-being) frame goal-tracking in specific di-
mensions of well-being. Emotions, personal traits, or biographical experiences are further
relevant psychological factors in actors’ decision making processes.
The opportunity structure, individual resources, and personal dispositions determine
the life domain in which the individual will invest her/his resources in a given situation in
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 89
order to generate subjective well-being. Expectations regarding the degree of instrumen-
tality of goal alternatives and the perceived ability to control outcomes through one’s be-
havior also affect this decision. Actors anticipate future consequences and expected
changes in the conditions of their actions. Future life course transitions (the “shadow of
the future”) gain relevance for decisions on current behavior in two ways. First, the ex-
pectation or plan to change family status – an anticipated marriage or childbirth, for ex-
ample – in the near future may motivate individuals to perform a shift in life domains
such as leaving home earlier than planned. Second, actors try to estimate the effects of
current behavior on future opportunities of the life course. This is particularly true when
transitions lead to irreversible and/or highly committing consequences for the actors in the
future life course, as is the case with childbirth. Following the life course perspective, we
have to take into account the fact that actors learn from the past and that they are re-
stricted in their degrees of freedom for current actions by past decisions and past behav-
ior. With the longitudinal perspective and the observation of the individual decision proc-
esses within a given context of interdependent individuals over a period of time, it will be
possible to work out which biographical experiences, needs and demands, as well as
which subjective expectations are associated with specific investments in regard to the ba-
sic dimensions of subjective well-being.
The advantages of such a conceptual framework are twofold. First, it provides a theo-
retical heuristic for modeling the high variety of questions concerning intimate relation-
ships and family dynamics from an interdisciplinary perspective. It helps to integrate so-
ciological, economic, and psychological concepts of individual action and decision mak-
ing over the life course. Second, it provides a general schema for the operationalization of
concepts with appropriate instruments of empirical research. Well-grounded middle-range
theories then are needed for each substantive issue area for the purpose of linking oppor-
tunity structure, individual resources, psychological dispositions, and expected and expe-
rienced costs and benefits within the dimensions of well-being for both partners. Accord-
ing to these theories, the general schema for operationalization is to be filled with appro-
priate measurements pertaining to the main questions of the panel study.
1. Opportunity structure: For each research question within the pairfam panel, the rele-
vant external structural factors have to be specified. For example, if we focus on partner-
selection process and close relationships, then information about the “marriage market,”
partner alternatives, working conditions, mobility, and the distance between the partners if
they do not live in the same household is needed. The inclusion of the partner’s, parent’s,
or the children’s perspective by implementing a multi-actor design allows for the analysis
of processes on the level of the couple and the family as panel information on relevant
alteri is available .
2. Individual resources: The resources of the individual, the partner, or the parents define
the amount of specific resources that can be invested for achieving subjective well-being.
Therefore, resources allocated to individual family members such as time, skill, or income
have to be measured separately.
3. Personal dispositions: Considering individual decision-making processes, e.g. invest-
ments into the quality and stability of an intimate relationship or the timing of childbear-
ing, individual utility expectations and preferences are important predictors in combina-
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
tion with personal traits. These psychological dispositions define the individual motiva-
tional structure and should to be modeled specifically for decisions in different life do-
4. Expected domain-related subjective well-being: In order to capture substitution, com-
pensation, and complementation effects between life-domains in regard to subjective
well-being, it is necessary to obtain information about subjectively expected benefits and
costs of investments in the respective domains. The panel structure of the data allows then
to model these utility expectations as antecedents in the decision-making process, e.g. for
the entry into parenthood, for the maintenance of a relationship, or for the care of elderly
5. Intentions: Given the opportunity structure, the individual resources, and personal dis-
positions as well as the expected benefits and costs pertaining to the basic dimensions of
subjective well-being, intentions capture the readiness for transitions in the life course of
the individual.
6. Obtained subjective well-being: Since individuals try to achieve well-being through in-
vestments in different life domains, the current status of achieved well-being in these life
domains and in general are to be monitored continuously. The relationship between the
expected benefits compared with the achieved well-being describes the level of perceived
satisfaction in the life course domains.
5. Design of the
5.1 Design and fieldwork of wave 1
The pairfam panel is an annual survey starting with about 12,000 randomly selected re-
spondents of three age groups (see below). These are our anchor persons. Each anchor is
asked for permission to interview his partner, children, and parents (his alteri), if avail-
able. Thus we have a multi-actor design in which panel information on both the anchor
and relevant alteri is available. For reducing respondent burden, in wave 1 we interviewed
only anchors and their partners. Beginning with wave 2 the full multi-actor design is used.
The anchor population is defined as all people living in Germany in private house-
holds who have sufficient mastery of the German language to follow the interview. We
chose a cohort-sequence design with the three birth cohorts 1991-1993, 1981-1983, and
1971-1973. Thus, at the outset of wave 1 we have three age groups: 15-17 years, 25-27
years and 35-37 years. Including these three age groups should provide immediate (cross-
sectional) information on decisive phases of the life course (therefore this design is some-
times called an “accelerated longitudinal cohort design”). On average, the youngest co-
hort is in the process of gaining autonomy in relation to their parents and starting their
first partnership relations, the middle cohort is expected to consider committed partner-
ship relations and family formation, and in the oldest cohort we expect to see the the
highest number of separations of long-term partnership relations. Our goal was to obtain
4,000 interviews from each cohort.
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 91
Due to the high complexity and the volume of content, in the questionnaire we distin-
guish between core modules, regular extended modules and irregular extra modules (Fig-
ure 1). Core modules contain questions repeated annually. They capture relevant infor-
mation for close description of decision-making processes. In each wave, core modules
from all main topics of the pairfam panel are included. Regular extended modules are im-
plemented in the survey questionnaire to gather more detailed information about various
subjects of interest. These modules rotate over the different waves. Finally, irregular extra
modules contain instruments which have to be included only once, such as the life history
calendar (LHC), or very irregularly (e.g. time diaries).
Figure 1: Modularization of the pairfam Panel
For the initial panel wave in 2008/09, 42,000 addresses were randomly drawn from the
population registers of 343 randomly selected communities; 12,402 anchor interviews
could be obtained. For the youngest cohort 4,334 interviews were realized, for the middle
cohort 4,016, and for the oldest cohort 4,052. The response rate for the initial wave was
36.9 percent overall. It differed between cohorts: 49 percent for the youngest, 33 percent
for the middle group, and 32 percent for the oldest. Response rates below 40 percent are
common for Germany. The pairfam panel is in this respect not unusual, with the one ex-
ception of the relatively high response rate for the youngest cohort.
A low response rate does not necessarily mean that there is a large response bias
(Groves/Peytcheva 2008). Recently Blohm and Koch (2009) showed that the German
General Social Survey 2008 (ALLBUS), with a response rate of 41 percent, was not bi-
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
ased in comparison to an ALLBUS+ study, for which intensive conversion methods gen-
erated a response rate of 63 percent. In addition, nonresponse bias is limited in the pair-
fam data. Frequency distributions do not differ largely from the Mikrozensus 2007, which
is a compulsory survey for a one percent sample of the population (Suckow/ Schneekloth
2009). Further, a poststratification weight is included in the data set that optionally can be
used for correcting discrepancies.
71 percent of the anchors with a partner gave consent for interviewing their partner.
19 percent of these partners did not return their questionnaire. Overall, 3,729 partner
questionnaires were returned, generating a response rate of 51.5 percent. Nonresponse is
higher for partners who do not live in the same household.
5.2 Details on the multi-actor surveys
Anchor interview: Anchors are interviewed with a Computer-Assisted Personal Interview
(CAPI). It includes Computer-Assisted Self-Administered Interview (CASI) segments for
sensitive questions. The interview duration averaged 60 minutes in the first wave. There
was a large variation in interview length (First Quartile = 38 minutes, median = 52 min-
utes, Third Quartile = 67 minutes). In wave 2, interviews last 70 minutes on average. A
considerable part of the additional interviewing time is needed for acquiring consent for the
alteri interviews and for collecting alteri’s addresses. Upon completion of the interview,
anchors receive a 10 € cash incentive which is announced in the advance letter. We do not
ask explicitly for re-interviewing consent. Only if the respondent explicitly declines to be
re-interviewed will he or she not be contacted again in future waves. In the first wave, two
percent of respondents explicitly declined. In future waves, all participants of the previous
wave who did not decline explicitly are contacted again. Starting with wave 3, non-
participating anchors from the last wave are contacted again if they were “soft refusals”
(not reachable, no time, etc.). In sum, from the third wave onwards, the design is non-
monotonic with a maximum gap of one wave.
Partner survey: Anchors in a relationship at the time of interview are asked to give their
consent to an interview of their partners. This holds independently of the cohabitation
status of the couple. In case of consent, the partner receives a 24-page Paper and Pencil-
Questionnaire (PAPI). The questionnaire is handed out by the interviewer, left behind
with the anchor or sent to the partner, depending on the situation and the anchor’s prefer-
ence. The questionnaire can be collected by the interviewer or sent back by the partner in
the return envelope provided. After sending back the questionnaire, the partner receives a
5 € ticket for a charity lottery.
Child interview: The child survey targets all biological children, adopted children, foster
children and stepchildren of the anchor between eight and fifteen years old who are living
in the anchor’s household. To reduce the overall burden, the survey starts with only one
child (the youngest eligible child) in wave 2. In the following waves this child will be
asked to give follow-up interviews as long as he or she still lives in the anchor’s house-
hold. In addition, all children who had their 8th birthday during the previous year are in-
cluded in the child survey. After obtaining permission to contact the children from the an-
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 93
chor, a 15-minute CAPI interview with the selected child(ren) is scheduled. There is a 5 €
gift to children in the survey as an incentive. Participants from the child survey who grow
out of the age range upon their sixteenth birthday will be included in the anchor sample of
the study.
Parenting survey: The parenting survey corresponds to the child survey. In each wave,
the anchor and his/her partner receive a PAPI-questionnaire for each child participating in
the child survey. The questionnaire is on parenting from the viewpoint of the parents. The
anchor is asked for consent and whether a questionnaire can be given to his or her partner,
too. For this survey, no incentive is given. The handover process of the questionnaire is as
follows: The anchor receives the questionnaire during the interview and it is collected af-
ter the interview or sent back in a return envelope. The partner receives a parenting ques-
tionnaire with the partner survey questionnaire and sends it or gives it back with the part-
ner questionnaire.
Further, we collect information on children below age eight in the anchor interview
and in the partner questionnaire. Beginning with newborns in wave 2, we will follow up
on all children born since the last interview with age-specific questions until they become
eight (and enter the child survey).
Parents’ survey: The parents’ survey is an annual mail survey of the parents of the an-
chor. Eligible for selection are biological parents, adoptive parents, and stepparents with
whom the anchor is in contact (with a maximum of three). Biological parents are almost
always approached for an interview. Only if the anchor is living with adoptive parents
since early childhood do those adoptive parents replace biological parents in the study.
Among existing stepparents, the stepfather is preferred as the third parent in the survey.
Only in his absence will the stepmother be selected. During the anchor interview, consent
to approach the parents is obtained and addresses are collected. The field organization
then mails a questionnaire of about 26 pages (16 pages in odd-numbered waves). The ac-
companying cover letter explains which children (and grandchildren) the questionnaire
pertains to. Parents are asked to fill in the questionnaire and return it using the provided
prepaid envelopes. Upon receiving the completed questionnaire, a thank-you letter is sent
out that includes a 5 € ticket for a charity lottery.
5.3 Guiding principles of questionnaire construction
For a panel survey, respondent retention is essential. For this reason, we have tried to
make the survey as attractive as possible and to reduce the burden of participation as far
as possible. On the positive side, other than hoping that our questionnaire is interesting,
we rely on conditional cash incentives due to our experience with a pilot study (Castigli-
oni/Pforr/Krieger 2008). In light of budgetary restrictions, we decided to give 10 € for an-
chors and 5 € for alteri. The idea of using lottery tickets stems from the positive experi-
ence of the German Socioeconomic Panel (GSOEP).
For reducing respondents’ time burden we made full use of the technical possibilities
provided by CAPI. Therefore, we decided to use routing extensively. This enables us to
avoid asking unnecessary questions to respondents, as we can tailor the questionnaire to
the respondents’ specific situations. This comes at the cost of a long and sophisticated
Johannes Huinink et al.: Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics
CAPI program code but helps us to save interview time and thus to keep our costs down
and the respondent’s time burden as light as possible. Additionally, it minimizes the pos-
sibility of inconsistent answers.
Another feature of the pairfam panel is the use of Dependent Interviewing (DI) in the
anchor interview. With DI we feed forward information collected in the prior wave to the
present interview. We make extensive use of DI and preload over 300 variables. Further,
we decided on using a proactive DI approach, asking respondents to validate whether a
given fact from the prior wave has changed or is still correct. With DI, the respondent has
a simpler cognitive task at hand. He or she can simply confirm the information instead of
producing a complete answer all over again. This saves us valuable interview time and the
respondent’s task is made easier.
DI is also used for collecting information on the life course. We decided to collect an-
chors’ life courses in an event history format, i.e. in each wave we ask retrospectively
about changes since the last interview and their timing. This is done for partnership, em-
ployment and residential history. To reduce respondents’ burden we use a graphic event
history calendar (EHC) to collect this information. A timeline is presented which already
contains preloaded information from the last wave as the starting point. Respondents
(with the help of the interviewer) then enter information on their life course interactively
in the EHC. Thus, the interviewer and the respondent can see and edit a graphic account
of the life course over the last year. The combination of DI and EHC – used for the first
time in a large population survey – should ease the cognitive task of the respondent and
produce more consistent data with less measurement error.
Our final strategy for reducing respondent burden is the use of CASI when asking
very sensitive information or questions that might be very sensitive in the presence of
other household members. The interviewer’s laptop is handed over to the respondent, who
then can fill in the questions autonomously. Thus, we create privacy for the respondent
while still being able to use the advantages of a computerized interview. The data are
available immediately and can be used for routing in later parts of the interview. After
completion of the CASI segment, the laptop is returned to the interviewer.
6. Concluding remarks
The pairfam project is a cooperative effort of the University of Bremen, the Chemnitz
University of Technology, the University of Mannheim and the Ludwig-Maximilians
University of Munich. Principal investigators are Josef Brüderl (Mannheim), Johannes
Huinink (Bremen), Bernhard Nauck (Chemnitz) and Sabine Walper (Munich). The design
of the first three waves was coordinated by Johannes Huinink, the subsequent waves will
be organized by Bernhard Nauck. The pairfam project now is funded as a project of the
“Long-term Program” of the German Research Foundation, which shall allow continuing
the panel study for 14 waves in total.
Although designed within a largely coherent conceptual framework and not for multi-
purpose data collection, the pairfam data are a collective good of the scientific commu-
nity. These data sets are purposively produced as scientific use files. Important bench-
marks of the scientific value of pairfam are the demand of scientists from various disci-
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 95
plines, institutions, and nations for the data produced as well as the scientific output based
on the analysis of pairfam data. Accordingly, efforts are being made to release the data of
the respective waves as early as possible to the scientific community while meeting high
standards of usability. This includes support provided in personal consultation and on
internet platforms, from which extensive material on the instruments and field reports are
downloadable. Also, user conferences will be held regularly in which the data structure
and its analytic capacity are explained to potential users. Similarly, methods workshops
are planned in which results from the analysis of pairfam data are shared and discussed.
The character of the pairfam data as a scientific use file implies that these data are ex-
clusively provided for scientific analyses. Precautions are taken to comply with and en-
force German privacy laws, especially with regard to anonymity and disaggregation, and
to protect the personal rights of the interviewees and their family members in these sensi-
tive matters of intimate relationships. Within these limits, pairfam data are provided to all
upon submission and approval of a research proposal.
The data of the first pairfam wave is available for scientific analyses (www.pairfam.
de). With the next waves, the survey design of pairfam will be rounded out. At the same
time, pairfam has to remain flexible enough to take on future challenges. Although conti-
nuity in the survey program (and the longitudinal analyses this makes possible) is the
primary goal of the survey, the survey design can accommodate changing demand for
data. New methods of data collection will be considered, too. It is also possible for inter-
ested researchers to use pairfam as a platform for the implementation of in-depth studies
of particular issues. The use of pairfam data for comparative research will be supported.
In any case, the data to be generated will provide a sound and profound basis for improv-
ing fundamental research on couples and family dynamics.
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Submitted on/Eingereicht am: 15.04.2010
Accepted on/Angenommen am: 09.12.2010
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23. Jahrg., Heft 1/2011, S. 77-101 101
Addressen of the authors/Anschriften der Autorinnen und Autoren:
Prof. Dr. Johannes Huinink (Korrespondenzautor/Corresponding author)
EMPAS, Universität Bremen
Celsiusstraße 1 (FVG)
28359 Bremen
Prof. Dr. Josef Brüderl
Universität Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Nauck
Universität Chemnitz
Prof. Dr. Sabine Walper
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Dr. Laura Castiglioni
MZES, Universität Mannheim
Dr, Michael Feldhaus
EMPAS, Universität Bremen
... However, within the PairFam data there are variables that give an indication of the degree a person is influenced by the different modes of nature. As an example, the Pairfam data collects information on relationship dynamics (Huinink et al., 2011). Relationship dynamics inform on the mode of ignorance (spousal abuse), passion (frequency of different partners, frequency of sexual intimacy), and goodness (feeling of security and well-being in a relationship as well as long-term stability). ...
Research Proposal
Full-text available
This dissertation will analyze the economic concept of consumption through the lens of religious philosophy. A theoretical model will be introduced to demonstrate how consumption is a function of 14 bodily senses in contact with five sense objects and five divisions of activities. A construct known as the Three Modes of Material Nature is introduced to designate consumption patterns and personality types. Finally, causal analysis using the German Family Panel pairfam* data will be performed to test the (general) hypos-thesis that consumption habits affect personality types.
The philosophical framework of strong relationality has gained greater attention in scholarship and yet empirically testing models built on this important framework are rare. The present study tests predictions made by the Strong Relationality Model of Relationship Flourishing (SRM), which centers on the role of Ethical Responsiveness for relationship health. In doing so, we introduce common fate modeling as a methodological approach for strong relationality research. We used longitudinal data from 1512 couples collected as part of the German longitudinal panel study of families. Results support the Strong Relationality Model's prediction that Ethical Responsiveness (as measured by perceived partner support) positively alters the impact of stress on Gratitude‐Recognition (elements of the Responsible Action domain of the SRM), which then increases couples' intimacy (an element of the Relational‐Connectivity domain of the SRM). Recommendations for clinical assessment and intervention are given as well as recommendations for future research on the Strong Relationality Model.
Full-text available
Many European studies find that immigrants and the native population differ in their long-term care use. These differences have been attributed to immigrants’ cultural preferences, among others. However, the cultural integration process of immigrants may result in a potential caregiving conflict between foreign-born immigrants’ preferences for long-term care and their children’s willingness to provide long-term care. In this study, we empirically assess to what extent cultural factors that prevail in foreign-born immigrants’ country of origin are reflected in their children’s value of informal care. Using data from the German Family Panel and the World Values Survey/European Values Study, we regressed second-generation immigrants’ value of informal care on the cultural strength of family ties that prevails in their parents’ country of birth. Probit models were estimated and individual characteristics were accounted for. The results show that second-generation immigrants who originate from cultures with stronger family ties are more likely to express a high value of informal care than second-generation immigrants who come from cultures with weaker family ties. We conclude that immigrants’ values of informal care are deeply shaped by their country of origin. Policy makers should keep immigrants’ needs and preferences in mind when implementing long-term care interventions. The same set of long-term care interventions can have very different effects, depending on immigrants’ values.
The school-to-work transition (STWT) represents a challenge for many young people in Germany today. Previous studies have particularly focused on the influence of adolescents' socio-demographic background as well as national institutions and transition regimes. However, qualitative studies have shown that in addition to these factors, adolescents' and young adults' social environment, especially their parental relationships, may also contribute to a more or less promising STWT. Despite these findings, such factors have so far only played a minor role in quantitative research on young people's STWT trajectories. Our aim is to explain STWTs through young people's social embeddedness, assuming that the difficult transition into working life is also shaped by the young people's family context. To achieve this objective, data on the first cohort (birth cohorts 1991–1993) of the German Family Panel (pairfam) are analysed. A sequence and cluster analysis were conducted on these data, which yielded seven transition patterns. In accordance with the structure of the German labour market, these patterns can be described as more linear transitions or non-standard transitions. Multinomial logistic regressions reveal that in addition to parental financial and human capital, indicators of the family's social capital (family structure, parent-child communication as well as emotional security) are decisive for a successful STWT.
Der vorliegende Beitrag diskutiert Aspekte des Auswahldesigns einer Untersuchung (wer wird befragt?) sowie des Erhebungsdesigns (wer wird wie oft befragt?) im Kontext der familiensoziologischen Forschung. Behandelt werden zunächst Vorteile, Analysepotenziale aber auch praktische Probleme des sog. Multi-Actor-Designs. Anschließend werden quasi-experimentelle Designs (Panelerhebungen mit difference-in-difference-Schätzern), familienpolitische Evaluationsmaßnahmen sowie, als Beispiel für ein experimentelles Design, faktorielle Surveys bzw. Vignettenstudien besprochen. Der Beitrag schließt mit einer Diskussion der Frage, inwieweit sich der Erkenntnisgewinn in der Familienforschung durch (weitere) Verbesserungen des Forschungsdesigns fördern lässt.
The COVID-19 pandemic substantially affected the lives of mothers. This study seeks to investigate the stress that mothers experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic and their self-efficacy as parents in managing the impact of the disease. The study gathered longitudinal data from 603 German mothers (Mage = 40.5 years) with children requiring daily care during local lockdowns. The data were collected at two measurement points before and two measure- ment points during the pandemic. Using bivariate dual change score models, this study investigated the bidirectional relationship between both constructs, perceived stress and parental self-efficacy, by considering mothers’ socioeco- nomic background as well as COVID-19 related perceptions. The results reveal bidirectional paths between mothers’ perceived stress and parental self- efficacy. Mothers who evaluated the current situation as stressful appeared to be at risk of perceiving themselves as less effective in their parenting over time, but especially during the pandemic. In addition, mothers’ levels of education and their subjective poverty was predictive of a general change in their levels of stress and parental self-efficacy.
Most people experience their first romantic relationship during adolescence. However, there is also a substantial proportion of youth who remain single during this time. Delaying the transition into the first romantic relationship may be associated with a decrease in self-esteem which might recover or even increase after youth engage in their first romantic relationship. The current study examined self-esteem development surrounding the transition into the first romantic relationship over a period of 10 years in a sample of N = 1395 adolescents ( M age = 16.22 at T1; M age = 26.22 at T11) from pairfam, a German representative panel study starting in 2008. Results from multilevel piecewise growth curve models showed that self-esteem did not change before beginning the first relationship, but slightly decreased thereafter. There were no moderating effects of age at first relationship, single satisfaction, or relationship satisfaction. However, both single and partnered youth who were more satisfied with their current relationship status reported higher self-esteem on average. Overall, the findings extend the current understanding of self-esteem development surrounding the transition into the first romantic relationship. Being single during late adolescence and emerging adulthood does not seem to pose a risk for youth’s self-esteem development.
Numerous models have been proposed for the analysis of convergent validity in longitudinal multimethod designs. However, existing multimethod models are limited to measurement designs with equally spaced time intervals. We present a new multirater latent state-trait model with autoregressive effects (MR-LST-AR) for designs with structurally different raters and individually varying time intervals. The new model is illustrated using the German Family Panel pairfam. By means of stochastic differential equations, we show how key coefficients of convergent and discriminant validity can be examined as a function of time. We compare the results from continuous and discrete time analysis and provide code to fit the new model in ctsem. Finally, the advantages and limitations of the model are discussed, and practical recommendations are provided.
In this article, we take a view on the current state of the art of empirical sociological research on the family and draw some conclusions concerning challenges of future research. We identify the main research topics of family sociology and provide a critical overview over the knowledge already gained and the scientific discourse in important fields of research. Deficits are addressed und future research topics are proposed. We need more research on cultural and social determinants of family dynamics, thus requiring an innovative thrust in research methods, more interdisciplinary openness and more comparative research. From the substantive point of view, more research is needed on the performance and the capabilities of families in modern societies. These research endeavours should be accompanied by a serious discussion about the future of the family. Zusammenfassung In diesem Beitrag wird, notgedrungen selektiv, der derzeitige Stand der soziologischen Familienforschung beleuchtet und es werden einige Schlussfolgerungen zu zukünftigen Aufgaben abgeleitet, denen sich die Familiensoziologie zu stellen hat. Das Forschungsprogramm der Familiesoziologie wird näher bestimmt. Darauf bezogen wird ein kritischer Überblick über den Forschungs- und Diskussionsstand in den wichtigsten Forschungsfeldern gegeben. Einige Forschungsdefizite werden diagnostiziert. Die Bestandsaufnahme mündet in die Formulierung einer Reihe von wichtigen Herausforderungen familiensoziologischer Forschung. Dazu gehört, die Analyse der kulturellen und sozialen Determinanten der Familienentwicklung zu stärken, was nur durch einen Innovationsschub in der familiensoziologischen Empirie, eine noch stärkere interdisziplinäre Ausrichtung der empirischen Familiensoziologie und mehr international vergleichende Forschung erreicht werden kann. Inhaltlich sollte die Forschung zu den Leistungen und zur Leistungsfähigkeit der Familie unter verschiedenen gesellschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen stärker in den Vordergrund gerückt und eine engagierte Diskussion um die Zukunft der Familie initiiert werden.
Die steigenden Scheidungsraten der vergangenen Jahrzehnte machen deutlich, dass es für partnerschaftliches Glück keine Garantien gibt. Was hält Beziehungen zusammen? Welche Faktoren tragen zum Erfolg von Partnerschaften bei, welche gefährden diesen? Auf der Suche nach Antworten integriert der Autor in diesem Buch Befunde und Theorien aus Familiensoziologie und Psychologie und legt damit den Grundstein für ein disziplinenübergreifendes Theoriegebäude des Partnerschaftserfolgs. "Im Ergebnis darf man die vorliegende Studie zu den wichtigsten Untersuchungen zum Thema Partnerschaftserfolg und Stabilität zählen." Prof. Dr. Paul Hill, RWTH Aachen