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Key features

By taking the prospective view, the GGP essentially broadens the explanatory scope of the collected data. To make causal inferences, the analyst needs data where the hypothesized cause is observed before the outcome in a person's lifetime. The panel design provides a possibility to use the broad range of information pertaining to the time of interview in explaining the demographic behaviour recorded between the panel waves. This is particularly important for variables such as incomes and opinions that cannot normally be caught retrospectively.

Population scholars increasingly share the view that single-discipline perspectives for studying population and family behaviour are incapable of producing major gains in our understanding. The multidisciplinary approach in the GGP is reflected in the breadth of theories underlying the questions included in the survey instrument. Among the theories reflected in the questionnaire are the theory of reasoned action, the theory of the importance of attitudes and norms in social behaviour, theories of the impact of social networks, and theories of gender and gendered behaviour.

The GGP integrates the broader context within which people make their behavioural choices into the data design and develops a contextual database. This is grounded on the assumption that individual behaviour, such as childbearing and the formation and disruption of co-residential unions, is influenced not only by personal traits, living conditions, and beliefs, but also by the context within which people live, including their families, networks, communities, and societies.

From its inception, the GGP has been a joint multi-country research effort. European countries have many features in common, therefore, it pays for countries to join forces and seek answers together. The knowledge emanating from a joint effort will better shed light on how each country's policies actually influence population and family change. In order to enable individual countries to compare themselves with others as fully as possible, the GGP aims at a high level of comparability of data and method.

The GGP addresses gender issues throughout its wide range of topics. It uses stratified nationally representative samples that include approximately equal numbers of men and women. It collects most of its data from a couple perspective, that is, the respondents provide a large amount of information also about their current partner if they have one. The gender issues are taken into account throughout the questionnaire in the formulating the response items and including thematic blocks of questions. All this allows to study the system of gender relationships in a country and its link with demographic behaviour.

The GGP covers relationships between generations also from the viewpoint of the population above the reproductive ages, which allows analysts and policy-makers to address the pertinent issues of population ageing in developed countries.