Global population aging challenges public policy worldwide, especially in countries with such generous public pension systems like Germany. As a consequence far reaching economic reforms affecting the pension system, the health care systems as well as labor markets have been introduced in the past years. A common feature of all these reforms is the shift of income risks from the state to the individuals, who are now required to make their own provisions. In order to measure how German households react to such changes the Munich (formerly Mannheim) Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) started the SAVE panel (Sparen und AltersVersorgE in Deutschland) in 2001. SAVE is a representative, longitudinal study on households' financial behavior with a special focus on savings and old-age provision.

Differing from the survey instruments and learning from the experiences made by other surveys (such as the U.S. Survey of Consumer Finances, the Dutch CenteR Panel or the Italian Survey on Household Income and Wealth), MEA researchers, in cooperation with TNS Infratest, designed the SAVE study to collect not only detailed quantitative information on households' financial structure like income, savings, and assets, but also relevant socio- and psychological aspects. Since 2005, a section devoted to health questions has been included. Moreover, new modules are introduced in order to track current macroeconomic changes such as the economic and financial crises of the last years.

The SAVE data are available free of charge for every scientific user. They are stored at the GESIS Datenarchiv für Sozialwissenschaften in Cologne and can be ordered online. The imputated waves from 2001 to 2013 are provided at GESIS Datenarchiv für Sozialwissenschaften. In addition, a compact dataset (miniSAVE) containing all datasets from 2005 to 2013 can be ordered. Due to its pre-aggregated variables the dataset is easy to handle and therefore especially suitable for teaching purposes. The application form should be faxed to +49 89 38602 - 390.

The SAVE data are used for scientific research in Germany and other countries on a regular basis and provide the necessary information for policy recommendations. Results find a wide echo not only in the scientific community, but also in the media. For instance, in 2001 Germany launched a new type of subsidized private pension, the so-called Riester pensions. SAVE data was used to analyze the new scheme and its' effect on savings shortly after the introduction (Die Riester-Förderung - das unbekannte Wesen). Also during the economic and financial crisis the survey proved to be a valuable tool for economic research. Using the SAVE dataset it was possible to monitor and understand the effects of the crisis and the behavioural responses of the households. A detailed analysis is provided in the MEA discussion paper 234-11 (Who lost the most? Financial Literacy, Cognitive Ability and the Financial Crisis).

The survey shifted its focus to the old age provisions in the wave in 2011. A wide range of questions need to be investigated in more detail: Do we save enough for the time after retirement? What can we learn from households who are already in retired? In order to answer these question the three pillars of the old-age provision (statutory, occupational, and private) have be considered.

The 9th wave of the survey in 2011 was conducted in close cooperation with Institute for Employment Research (Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung - IAB, Nuremberg), the research institute of the German employment agency. The cooperation allows a linkage between complete employment biographies and contributions to the social security system with the SAVE survey, which in turn are needed as to evaluate the financial security of current and future retirees.

The questionnaire was considerably shortened in 2011: Due to the redesign and the cooperation with the IAB the amount of questions was reduced to 38 which further increased the acceptance among the respondents.

With the 10th wave of the survey, SAVE was completed in 2013. The focus was the knowledge of the private old-age provisions and company pension schemes.

SAVE was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) until 2010 and afterwards by the Max Planck Society. In addition, SAVE 2013 received funding from the German Association of Insurance Economics (DVfVW). We are grateful to all funders.

MEA Study n° 6 documents the scientific background, offers details on the design of the survey and provides the information necessary to work with the SAVE data.


For further information about SAVE, please contact Raphael Guber.


General Information about the Data:

Overview of some current Results:

Publications, Discussion Papers and Diploma Theses arisen from this Project:

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