Promising Practice

Data Collection on Discrimination experiences in the Socio Economic Panel Innovation Sample

Erhebung von subjektiven Diskriminierungserfahrungen in der SOEP-Innovations-Stichprobe
In 2015, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency of Germany (FADA) introduced two new questions into the innovation sample of the national Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). It asked respondents whether they have experienced discrimination within the last two years and, if yes, the frequency of discrimination experienced in different areas of life.
Operational guidelines
Mainstream equality data
Ensure regular and timely data collection
Gender identity
Racial or ethnic origin
Religion or belief
Sexual orientation
All grounds / Cross-cutting


In this page:

Why was the practice needed?

In 2015, the German Federal Antidiscrimination Agency (FADA) successfully introduced two questions on experienced discrimination in the Innovation Sample of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). With this initiative, FADA aims to tackle the lack of regularly available and representative data on how widespread experiences of discrimination are in Germany. The aim of the practice is to regularly include a question module on discrimination in the SOEP-Core (e.g. every four years).

The SOEP is a longitudinal household panel survey that has been conducted annually since 1984. The main sample, the SOEP-Core, is carried out by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). It comprises approximately 30,000 people from almost 11,000 households.

The Innovation Sample is much smaller compared to the SOEP-Core sample but shares some of its important design elements. It has been developed to include, and test new and innovative questions. The newly introduced questions ask:

  • how often the respondents have experienced discrimination based on one or more grounds mentioned in the General Equal Treatment Act, on the ground of social status or other grounds;
  • the frequency of discrimination experiences in different areas of life.

The questions were designed to show discrimination on all grounds of the General Equal Treatment Act (ethnic origin/racist discrimination, gender, age, religion or belief, disability, and sexual identity), without making the SOEP Innovation Sample, an already comprehensive multi-topic survey, too long.

How was it implemented?

The FADA developed the wording of the questions and categories. It adapted them slightly in collaboration with the German Institute for Economic Research. It then submitted a proposal for including of the questions.

The data from these questions allow for an investigation on how discrimination is related to demographic and socioeconomic variables as well as indicators such as health or life satisfaction. Subsequent survey waves would also enable to test if changes in the respondents’ lives affect self-reporting of discrimination.


  • A research report, published in April 2019, sets out the initial results from the two questions on perceived discrimination. The report also discusses the suitability of the questions and makes recommendations for further refinements as a basis for further debates with academics and civil society organisations.
  • A factsheet available in English summarises the main outcomes of the study.

Key success factors

When designing the questions, FADA could build on its experiences with the 2015 study on experiences of discrimination in Germany. Furthermore, the proposal was supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration, the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to People with Disabilities and several researchers active in the field of discrimination research.

Technical information

  • Data sources covered: Household or individual surveys.
  • Areas of life covered: Employment; Education; Health; Housing and living conditions; Access to goods and services; Others: Public spaces or leisure time, government offices and authorities, police, Internet and media, private sphere.
  • Target audience: FADA and the German Institute for Economic Research
  • Duration: December 2015 – April 2019
  • Geographical scope: National
  • Leading institution: Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency of Germany (FADA)
  • Other organisations involved/consulted: German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)
  • Financial & human resources: Budget: Survey questions from accepted proposals are introduced into SOEP-IS without any additional costs; Source of the budget: No information provided; Staff: No information provided.


Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency / Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes

Rainer Stocker

Email: rainer (dot) stocker (at) ads (dot) bund (dot) de