Design of LifE

The LifE study is the continuation of the ‘Konstanzer Jugendstudie’ (Youth Study of Constance). Between 1979 and 1983 approximately 2,000 children and adolescents from the city of Frankfurt and two rural regions in the state of Hesse participated in the annual youth survey. Among other things, growing-up in a metropolis and typical German rural areas became comparable.

In 2002 – about 20 years later – the survey was brought back to life by conducting a follow-up survey, followed by a second follow-up ten years later in 2012.

The data available from the longitudinal youth study include detailed and systematized indicators on socialization conditions and educational experiences in the school environment, in the parents' home and in the peer group at that time. Furthermore, detailed information on the participants’ performance behavior, on social embeddedness and lifestyles as well as on intra- and interpersonal competences and motivations are available (Fend/Prester 1986, Fend/Specht 1986, Fend 1990). In addition to the main survey of adolescents, two major parental investigations, three surveys for teachers, two methodological studies and several qualitative studies were conducted.

Illustration: Design of the study

from Lauterbach/Fend/Gläßer 2016:16

In 2002, interviews with the now 35-year-old former adolescents were conducted. After the interruption of almost 20 years, 1,657 people participated in the follow-up survey. As indicators for coping with life in early adulthood, various characteristics regarding social, professional and cultural spheres as well as the area of mental and physical health were recorded. A substantial component constituted the collection of the history and the sequences of professional careers, partner and family formations.

The 2012 survey ought to collect such indicators once more in the stage of advanced adulthood. In addition, not only the main sample was being obtained, but also the children, aged 12 to 18 years, of our main sample were included. Thus, the LifE study is a three-generation study which is capable of mapping intergenerational transmission processes, comparing the juvenile period of two successive generations, and examining the relationship between generations.

The LifE study currently runs as one of the longest development studies in the German speaking countries and is one of only a few research projects, which is capable of examining transition processes from adolescence to adulthood on the basis of a large sample.

Similar research projects are, for example, conducted within the BIJU study at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin (Roeder / Schnabel 1995), the cohort study by Hillmert and Mayer (2004), within the framework of the DFG priority program PAIRFAM (Walper 2005), the Study of the Jacobs Center in Zurich (Buchmann / Kriesi 2008) or in the vicinity of Silbereisen (2008) in Jena.