Documentation of Starting Cohort Adults (SC6)

Version 15.0.0


The information on this site refers to version 15.0.0. Here you find information on the former versions 14.0.0, 13.0.0, 12.1.0, 12.0.1, 12.0.0, 11.1.0, 11.0.0, 10.0.1, 10.0.0, 9.0.1, 9.0.0, 8.0.0, 7.0.0, 6.0.1, 6.0.0, 5.0.0, 3.0.1, 3.0.0, and 1.0.0.

Date of Release

  • 2024-xx-xx



Within this partial study conducted by the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), data on courses of education and occupation as well as on competence acquisition across adult life courses are collected. In order to be able to study adult education, the entire spectrum of educational activities and learning processes (formal, non-formal, and informal), decisions resulting in their participation, and the previous life course of the interviewees (especially the course of education and occupation, regional mobility, relationships, and children) are recorded in detail. Similar to the lack of knowledge concerning adult education in Germany, there is very little information on competences and their changes after school. This is why this partial study collects data on competences in reading, mathematics, sciences, and ICT as well as on non-cognitive skills (such as personality, motivation and social skills).
The data should enable researchers to

  • trace the acquisition of education across the adultlife course, and to follow the courses of further education and occupation of younger cohorts after their job entry;
  • study why individuals decide to participate or not to participate in formal or non-formal learning activities after initial vocational training;
  • describe the competences of different groups of adults in Germany and to explain competence development in adult life as well as the importance of the employment situation in this context;
  • analyze the impact of specific educational contexts in adult life, especially of the employment situation and family constellation, on educational choices and participation in further training;
  • estimate the returns to formal qualifications, competences and professional experience in terms of wages, occupational careers and in other areas of life, e.g., well-being or volunteer work;
  • generate empirical results on competences of migrants, their resources, their participation in and returns to further training;
  • identify opportunities and obstacles for learning processes and education in later adult life.
The field time of the adult survey started already in 2007, i.e. prior to the foundation of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). The adult survey 2007/08 was conducted by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) under the name of “Working and Learning in a Changing World” (ALWA). Afterwards, the data collection of the adult survey continued under the umbrella of the NEPS from November 2009 to August 2010.

Principal Investigator








Below you will find detailed additional information regarding the surveys, instruments and data from the Starting Cohort Adults. This documentation refers to the version 15.0.0. In case of questions, simply contact the Research Data Center.

Data Manual (more) PDF-de
Release Notes (more) TXT-en
Survey Instruments (more) ZIP
Information on Competence Tests (more) ZIP
Semantic Data Structure File (more) ZIP
Codebook (more) PDF-de PDF-en
Glossary (more) PDF-en
Anonymization Procedures (more) PDF-en
Field Reports (more) ZIP
Interviewer Manuals (more) ZIP
Samples, Weights, Nonresponse (more) ZIP
Generated Variables on Education (more) PDF-en
Regional data (more) ZIP
Merging Matrix (more) PDF-en
Check Module for Reported Life Courses (more) PDF-de

Starting Cohort Adults

Access the Data

The download of NEPS data presupposes a valid Data Use Agreement. Eligible applicants are all individuals in possession of a university degree employed by a scientific institution. Data access is free of charge.

(external) Data Access Request Forms

Registered data users can download the NEPS Scientific Use Files by logging in to the website with their personal nu-number and password.

(external) Data Download Center

More Information

In addition to the overview on this site, we offer further information about the data from Starting Cohort 6 (Adults):