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Working and Learning in a Changing World (ALWA), ALWA Literacy und Numeracy Data (ALWA-LiNu) and ALWA survey data linked to administrative data of the IAB (ALWA-ADIAB)

Data Source:

‘Working and Learning in a Changing World’, ALWA derived from its German name ‘Arbeiten und Lernen im Wandel’ for short, is a data set which was collected on behalf of the research department ‘Education and Employment over the Life Course’ (FB E1) of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Nuremberg within the project ‘Qualifications, Competencies and Working Lives’. The ALWA-data contain information about more than 10.400 life histories and allows detailed longitudinal analysis in particular about schooling and training decisions, labour market re-entries and labour market behaviour as well as about processes of family formation and regional mobility.
The basic population consists of all German residents born between 1956 and 1988 irrespective of their spoken language, nationality and employment status. The random sample was drawn in two steps. First 281 sample points (250 communities) were taken from data provided by the Federal Statistical Office or its state agencies. Their local residents' registration offices were asked to provide a systematic random sample (interval sampling) from their person registers and to provide a list of addresses from the birth cohorts 1956-1988. Second, for the field work, 152 addresses per sample point were selected by a simple random sample, making a total of 42.712 addresses. For 22.656 addresses a valid telephone phone number could be researched.
After a pilot study and pre-test interviews the main survey started in August 2007. The telephone interviews were realised from August 2007 to April 2008. In total, 10.404 interviews were conducted. 


The information about the life histories of the respondents was collected in different modules, meaning that questions about different life domains were asked successively. The following modules were asked for: personal information, places of residence, school visits, vocational preparation, training and higher education, military service, employment and unemployment, partnerships, children and parental leave.

Information on the different versions of the ALWA data

ALWA data are available in three different Versions:

  • ALWA survey data (ALWA)
  • ALWA Literacy und Numeracy Data (ALWA-LiNu)
  • ALWA survey data linked to administrative data of the IAB (ALWA-ADIAB)

ALWA-LiNu: Shortly after the CATI interviews, one-hour face-to-face PAPI interviews were conducted in the IAB study ALWA with those respondents who had given their consent. Mainly, these interviews consisted in standardized tests focused on measuring cognitive skills in two domains, prose literacy and numeracy. The major goal of the ALWA study, for which the pilot was conducted in 2006/07 and the main survey in 2007/08, was to provide a database for statistical analyses on the relationships among cognitive competencies, educational credentials, and employment and working lives in longitudinal perspective. In the skills tests measurement constructs and items from both the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS, 1994-1999) and the Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey (ALL, 2003-2008) were used. Scaling methods were modeled as well after those used for IALS and ALL.

ALWA-ADIAB makes it possible to analyze survey and administrative data for the ALWA respondents simultaneously. The linked administrative data set contains both variables with individual characteristics and characteristics of the establishments the respondents work at. The administrative data cover the entire time frame of data available at the FDZ. Thus, episodes which started or ended after the actual interview are included as well. In addition to that, ALWA-ADIAB contains characteristics about the quality of the data linkage for each respondent, which permits methodological analyses.

Dataset Descriptions and Frequencies

A detailed descriptions for each version are included in the respective FDZ Datenreports. A description of the survey data, of the study design, implementation of the skills tests, scaling and weighting procedures of ALWA-LiNu and a short description of the ALWA-ADIAB are available in the respective FDZ Methodenreports.






FDZ-Datenreport 02/2010 (de, Excel)
FDZ-Datenreport 02/2010 (de, PDF)
FDZ-Datenreport 02/2010 (en, Excel)
FDZ-Datenreport 02/2010 (en, PDF)

Fallzahlen (de, Excel)
Fallzahlen (de, PDF)
Frequencies (en)

FDZ-Methodenreport 05/2010 (de)
FDZ-Methodenreport 05/2010 (en)
ALWA-LiNu FDZ-Datenreport 05/2012 (en) Fallzahlen (en) FDZ-Methodenreport 10/2012 (en)
ALWA-ADIAB FDZ-Datenreport 5/2011 (de) Fallzahlen (de)
Frequencies (en)
FDZ-Methodenreport 12/2011 (en)

Data Access

The ALWA data are available via the following ways of access:

ALWA survey data (ALWA) and ALWA Literacy und Numeracy Data (ALWA-LiNu)
ALWA survey data linked to administrative data of the IAB (ALWA-ADIAB)

Test Data of the ALWA-ADIAB

Usually test data are available in order to allow for the preparation of programs to facilitate remote data access as well as on-site use. But there are currently no test data available for ALWA-ADIAB.

We recommend users to apply for the scientific use file ALWA in order to prepare the analysis of the survey data. Further information on requesting a SUF

Furthermore we recommend users to make use of the test data for the Sample of Integrated Labour Market Biographies (SIAB) in order to prepare the analysis of the administrative data. Although these data are based on a different sample, they contain the same variables. To the SIAB test data.

Other Working Tools

English labels

The FDZ offers variable and value labels in English. Stata user can get access to the English labels by using the command 'label language en' since version ALWA SUF V4.  SPSS user can get access to the English labels by using the label syntax from the FDZ: SPSS programm for English labels

Error Correction for ALWA

Some errors have been detected in the variables 'etbs' and 'fpt'. Please use the following manual to fix them: Error Correction for ALWA

Publications (only in German)

Drasch, Katrin; Matthes, Britta; Munz, Manuel; Paulus, Wiebke; Valentin, Margot-Anna (2012): Arbeiten und Lernen im Wandel * Teil V: Die Codierung der offenen Angaben zur beruflichen Tätigkeit, Ausbildung und Branche. (FDZ Methodenreport, 04/2012 (de)), Nürnberg, 26 S. 

Matthes, Britta; Drasch, Katrin; Erhardt, Klaudia; Künster, Ralf; Valentin, Margot-Anna (2012): Arbeiten und Lernen im Wandel. Teil IV: Editionsbericht. (FDZ Methodenreport, 03/2012), Nürnberg, 59 S. 

Gilberg, Reiner; Hess, Doris; Prussog-Wagner, Angela; Steinwede, Angelika (2011): Arbeiten und Lernen im Wandel * Teil III: Methodenbericht. (FDZ Methodenreport, 10/2011 (de)), Nürnberg 

Kleinert, Corinna; Matthes, Britta; Jacob, Marita (2008): Die Befragung "Arbeiten und Lernen im Wandel" * theoretischer Hintergrund und Konzeption. (IAB-Forschungsbericht, 05/2008), Nürnberg

Further working tools as the standards for the citation of data and data documentation and papers on working with the FDZ data can be found here.