Generations and Gender Survey
A cross-national panel survey on life-course and family dynamics

About GGS

The GGS is a survey on life-course and family dynamics across various countries. It surveys people aged 18 to 79, with follow-up surveys at three and six-year intervals to track how people’s lives unfold. The GGS questionnaire, created by an international team of social scientists, addresses pertinent topics, including:

  • Life course transitions (e.g., marriage, divorce, childbirth)
  • Demographic behavior (e.g., fertility intentions, family planning)
  • Intergenerational relationships
  • Economic conditions and employment
  • Gender roles and equality

GGS data is a freely accessible data resource that is valuable for researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders interested in demographic research and family studies. Its high-quality, comprehensive data support a wide range of research and policy analyses, helping to address demographic challenges and improve societal well-being.

Path towards GGS

The GGS follows a tradition of international demographic surveys, starting with the World Fertility Survey (WFS) in the 1970s. The WFS was launched to address concerns about rapid population growth driven by high fertility rates. While most European countries experienced declining fertility rates and demographic changes, only Portugal participated in the WFS, with others conducting affiliated surveys without cross-national harmonization.

In the early 1990s, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) initiated the Family and Fertility Survey (FFS) with a standardized questionnaire used across Europe. The FFS aimed to provide comparable data on marriages, cohabitation, divorces, and births, addressing the need for standardized demographic data due to declining fertility rates and increasing marital instability. The FFS collected data from over 100,000 women and 50,000 men in 23 countries, enabling extensive cross-cultural studies.

Recognizing the success of the FFS, the UNECE, together with leading demographic institutes, decided to build on the FFS’s key features while expanding the scope. The result was the Generations and Gender Programme, with the GGS as its main instrument. The GGS covers a wider age range (18-79) and includes a panel dimension with interviews every three years. Additionally, a Contextual Database complements the data, providing institutional, social, and economic context.

Key Features

Cross-national comparability

More than 20 countries have conducted at least one wave of data collection. The comparative focus allows analyses of the ways in which policies, culture and economic circumstances influence dependencies between men and women and between the young and the old.

A longitudinal design

GGS applies a panel design – collecting information on the same persons at three-year intervals – to allow the examination of causes and consequences of inequalities between genders and generations. 

A large sample size

GGS targets an average of 10,000 respondents per country, making it possible to study numerical minorities and uncommon events.

A broad age range

The GGP collects data on the whole life course by interviewing respondents aged 18-79. It also enables analysis of multiple generations by asking extensive questions about intergenerational exchange and support

The combination of micro and macro data

Alongside the micro data collected via surveys, the GGP has a contextual database with over 100 indicators which cover not only the year of the survey but also retrospective indicators covering the past 40 years to be used alongside the retrospective data in the surveys.

A theory-driven and multidisciplinary questionnaire

The GGS questionnaire is developed and maintained by a team of leading social scientists from demography, sociology and economics. The questionnaire seeks to bring together a wide range of subjects that examine the causes and consequences of family change.

Two rounds of data collection

The GGS uses a cyclical approach wherein the panel is paused after one or two follow-ups and then restarts with new respondents. This cycle, seen between GGS-I and GGS-II, occurs roughly every ten to fifteen years. As such, it provides both long-term data and fresh samples to maintain national representativeness. It also allows the survey to adapt to new policies, demographic changes, and social trends.


The first round (GGS-I) has started in 2004 as a three-wave panel study with three-year time intervals. It has collected information from over 200,000 individuals aged 18 to 79 from 19 countries and contributed to the social sciences as a unique longitudinal data resource on families and life course trajectories. Read more


The second round (GGS-II) started officially in 2020 with an updated and renewed methodology as well as refreshed samples to ensure that social scientists and policymakers have access to the highest quality data possible. Read more

Download the GGS Data Brief here (working paper)

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