Fiona Willis-Núñez and Vitalija Gaucaite Wittich

tell us about the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP)

Fiona Willis-Núñez and Vitalija Guacaite work in the Population Unit of UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). They research different subjects on population, specifically questions related to ageing. They are also GGP programme administrators.

(Interview conducted in June 2011)

What is the Generations and Gender Programme and what is UNECE’s role in it?

Our unit plays a key role in the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) launched by UNECE in 2000. Notably, we help define the potential policy uses of survey material. Intergovernmental support was crucial in launching the programme. Like the Fertility and Family Surveys of the 1990s (FFS), GGP was developed in response to policymakers’ demands for more and better data on which to base their decisions.
GGP centres around two major axes: the Generations and Gender Survey, coordinated by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), and the contextual database, coordinated by Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. The surveys conducted in each participating country furnish comparable individual data on demographic trends and the factors underlying them. The survey questionnaire focuses on describing and explaining family construction dynamics. Particular attention is given to parent-child relations (intergenerational) and relations between life partners (gender). In parallel, the contextual database collects information in the participating countries on national and regional-level policies and economic and social contexts.

How are INED and the Population Unit collaborating?

INED and UNECE’s PAU (Population Ageing Unit) have been working together for a long time now. Like INSEE, INED has been involved in conducting the Fertility and Family Surveys in France since 1994. As a member of the twelve-organization consortium that planned and coordinated the programme, INED has also been a key GGP partner since it was launched in 2000. In fact, not only has INED been designing and managing the French surveys (called ERFI: Etude des Relations Familiales et Intergénerationnelles, headed by Arnaud Régnier-Loillier) but INED representatives are also active in strategic programme orientation planning and survey design and tool development. INED’s Ariane Pailhé and Olivier Thévenon are members of the GGP International Working Group and INED is a member of the GGP consortium (through its director, Chantal Cases), making the Institute a key contributor to the programme. Moreover, since 2009, INED’s survey department has been in charge of archiving GGS survey microdata and putting it online. INED is also housing the data and managing the NESSTAR interface that allows researchers to work with complete files and to access, tabulate and analyse data on line without having to download it.

What are some of the main survey findings?

GGS micro-data is currently available for 11 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany (including a subsample of Germany’s Turkish population), Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, and the Russian Federation. All these countries conducted the first survey wave between 2001 and 2008. Five other countries have also done a first survey wave: Australia, Belgium, Italy, Lithuania and Poland. And wave 2 data have been collected in nine of these countries. The data harmonisation process is under way and the data should be available soon. As of now, only a few countries have conducted wave 3. These longitudinal data represent an excellent opportunity to develop original analyses, even though we will have to wait a bit before they are fully accessible. 
The list of articles, working papers, dissertations, technical reports and other documents based on the GGS survey data already includes more than 500 references, all accessible on the same website. They cover a wide range of themes. Many probe the major questions on current demographic issues such as intergenerational relations, fertility, marriage and cohabitation; others handle methodological or theoretical questions, a type of research made possible by large-sample comparative surveys such as this one.