Family Monitoring

Objectives and origin

Family reporting has a long tradition in Germany. As early as 1965, the German Bundestag commissioned the Federal Government to provide family reports. The reason for the regular family reports was to continuously monitor the situation of families and to control the effectiveness of family policy measures. This established the main objectives of the family reports:

  • Continuous monitoring of the situation of the families in order to detect changes at an early stage,
  • Creating a data basis for political decision-makers,
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of family policy measures.

By regularly and systematically monitoring and documenting the situation of families, family reports can be seen as a special type of social reporting.

A regionally differentiated family reporting by federal states began in the late 1960s with the First Family Report of North Rhine-Westphalia. Since the end of the 1980s, this type of family reporting has also become established in the other federal states. This takes account of the fact that the living situation of families, family policies and the change in family forms vary from region to region.

Family reporting for Bavaria is one of the central tasks of the State Institute for Family Research at the University of Bamberg. The project "ifb-Familienreport Bayern" (ifb Family Report Bavaria) was developed by the ifb on its own initiative in 1998 and was set up in consultation with the Bavarian State Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Family, and Women as a permanent project to observe and document the situation of families in Bavaria. At the time, the project was planned as a continuous survey every three years. Between these publication dates, the most important data was to be updated and published in a volume of tables.

The focus of this permanent project of the ifb is, on the one hand, to document the current social and economic situation of families in Bavaria. On the other hand, this takes place in the context of long-term developments. Examples are the pluralization of family lifestyles, the increasing age of women and men at the transition to parenthood, the declining number of people living in family households, and the increasing maternal employment.

Methodical approach

For continuous reporting, general structural data on Bavarian families (topics areas: families and ways of life, marriages and divorces, births, family and employment) and selected family policy achievements of the Free State of Bavaria are presented in long series and categories relevant to family policy.

For this purpose, various publications of official statistics are reviewed and evaluated. In particular, these are Statistical Reports and Specialized Series, and the Genesis online databases of the federal and state governments. In addition, the official 1% sample of the resident population of Germany, the Microcensus, is evaluated. Data on infrastructure and expenditure on and use of family policy services are collected by the Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labor, and Social Affairs. Since official statistics only reflect household structures but not family contexts, other data sources are becoming increasingly important for family reporting, as family lifestyles become more differentiated. For example, official statistics cannot depict "living apart together" lifestyles or stepfamilies. Therefore, survey data representative of the population and geared to the questions of the social sciences, such as the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), are also evaluated.

In continuous family reports, univariate distributions are described in absolute numbers as unit values or rates of change.

For the in-depth reports, further data sources are consulted and evaluated with descriptive and inductive methods that are suitable for answering the respective questions.


The continuous reporting takes place annually in the ifb family report Bavaria - table volume as well as on the Internet side of the institute, in the portal “numbers and facts”. Here, general structural data on Bavarian families (topic areas: families and ways of life, marriages and divorces, births, family, and employment) and selected family policy achievements of the Free State of Bavaria are graphically presented. In addition, reports are published at irregular intervals, in which selected key topics are dealt with in greater depth. The results of this extensive data documentation are available to decision-makers in politics, administration, associations, and academics as fundamental information, on the basis of which possible problems can be identified and new requirements for family policy measures can be derived.

The family reports, table volumes and graphics are also available to the public as a source of information.

Results of basic research in the field of family reporting are presented to the scientific community in the form of journal articles.

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