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Institute of

LV Rural Studies


Continuity and Change in Living Conditions in Rural Areas

Longitudinal survey data lends itself to studying stability and change in living conditions
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Longitudinal data are particularly suitable for recording stability and change in living conditions

Continuity and Change in Living Conditions in Rural Areas: Explorative Analyses of German Socio-economic Panel (SOEP) data

What new insights into living conditions in rural areas do data from the Socio-Economic Panel, a representative survey of private households in Germany, offer? This question is the focus of a project at the Thünen Institute.

Background and Objective

This project aims to explore the opportunities to research living conditions in rural areas afforded by data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). The SOEP is a renowned social-sciences survey of private households that has been asking the same people and families about their living situation every year since 1984. With its longitudinal design and sample size - around 30,000 people in 14,000 households are currently surveyed annually - the SOEP is a unique data source in many ways. The data collected over decades permit detailed analyses of the social structure (e.g. age, level of education, income) and subjective evaluations (e.g. satisfaction with health, economic situation, living environment), cross-sectionally and over time.
In principle, the SOEP data are suitable for spatial questions, e.g. how living conditions and attitudes differ across types of areas and whether there are different trends over time, e.g., in villages compared to towns. To describe the spatial context below the level of the federal states, it is necessary to enrich the SOEP data with small-scale spatial data. As part of this project, spatial data from the Thünen Institute of Rural Studies are linked with data from the SOEP gain insights into whether and how the living conditions of the population in rural areas have changed.


  • Linking data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) with small-scale data from the monitoring of rural areas (e.g., Thünen typology of rural areas, Thünen accessibility model)
  • Analysing selected socio-economic aspects of living conditions in rural and non-rural areas
  • Sketching out the possibilities of using the SOEP for the analysis of research questions concerning rural areas


Links and Downloads

Publications to the project

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