Resource Type
  • Diewald, Martin (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Riemann, Rainer (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Spinath, Frank M. (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Gottschling, Juliana (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Hahn, Elisabeth (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Kornadt, Anna E. (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Kottwitz, Anita (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin)
  • Schulz, Wiebke (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Schunck, Reinhard (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Baier, Tina (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Bartling, Annika (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Hufer, Anke (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Kaempfert, Merit (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Krell, Kristina (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Lang, Volker (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Lenau, Franziska (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Nikstat, Amelie (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Peters, Anna-Lena (Universität Bielefeld)
Publication Date
  • First wave (first Face-to-Face interview): TNS Infratest (Data Collector)
  • ZA:
    • Political Attitudes and Behavior
    • Occupation, Profession
    • Society, Culture
    • Community, Living Environment
    • Family
    • Education, School Systems
    • Person, Personality, Role
  • Abstract

    TwinLife is a 12-year representative behavior genetic study investigating the emergence and development of social inequalities over the life course. The long-term project began in 2014 and surveys more than 4,000 pairs of twins and their families in different stages of life on a yearly basis. All of the subjects reside in Germany. Not only social, but also genetic mechanisms as well as covariations and interactions between these two factors can be examined with the help of identical and fraternal same-sex twins. In order to document the individual development of different aspects it is important to examine the families extensively over the course of several years. Six important contextual domains are focused on: 1. Education and academic performance / skill development, 2. career and labor market attainment, 3. integration and participation in social, cultural and political life, 4. quality of life and perceived capabilities, 5. physical and psychological health and 6. behavioral problems and deviant behavior. In the following, the TwinLife Data are described in more detail by the life domains outlined above: 1. Education and academic performance / skill development: In this domain data on grades, educational motivations, levels of education are collected in addition to information on cognitive abilities, personality traits / noncognitive skills and their development. 2. Career and labor market attainment: This domain includes information on the current occupation, the current occupational position and the income (or, if applicable, on the receipt of social benefits) as well as on the perceived job security, job satisfaction and the commitment to work. 3. Integration and taking part in social and political life: Here, characteristics of the social environment of the persons such as the support through the family, friends and spouses are included. Furthermore, data on social and political commitment as well as social resources are collected. 4. Quality of life and subjectively perceived quality of life: This domains contains information on person’s self-esteem as well as on global and domain specific life satisfaction. 5. Physical and psychological health: Here, assessments of general health, on specific diseases, but also on subjectively perceived impairments, on medical check ups (health record books) as well as on health behaviors are covered by the data. 6. Behavioral issues and deviant behavior: Information on criminal behavior as well as on the degree of internalized and externalized problematic behavior is surveyed in this domain. In addition, information on environmental characteristics such as the socio-economic status (SES) of the families, the family structure, the relations among the family members as well as characteristics of the neighborhood are contained in the data.
Temporal Coverage
  • 2014-10-01 / 2015-05-31
  • 2015-10-01 / 2016-04-30
Geographic Coverage
  • Germany (DE)
Sampled Universe
Twins and their families (Extended Twin Family Design, ETFD): Monozygotic and dizygotic same-sex twin pairs born in the following years: 1.) 1990 and 1991, 2.) 1997, 3.) 2003 and 4.) 2009 (4 birth cohorts) + at least one biological parent (+ if possible the other biological parent, step-parent(-s), one sibling and the twins' partners)
Probability Sample: Multistage Sample
Collection Mode
  • Household interviews with the family via three different interview modes (Face-to-face interview: CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview), Self-administered questionnaire: CASI (Computer Assisted Self-Interview), and Self-administered questionnaire: Paper plus cognitive tests, scans/photos of certificates; interviews with family members living outside the interviewed households by two modes (Self-administered questionnaire: CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview), Self-administered questionnaire: Paper.
Data and File Information
  • Number of Variables: 2579
The data release consists of four files. Two of them contain similar information in two different formats. One of the two is a SUF-data file in person format (i.e., in a format with one data row per person) and the other is a SUF-data file in family format (i.e., in a format with one data row per family). In addition, a data file with the information of the survey for the zygosity assessment of the twin pairs and a data file documenting the survey mode for each variable on the person level is part of the data release. Note: Part of the data was collected using a paper&pancil-questionnaire (documented as ´3: P&P self-administered questionnaire´ in the survey mode dataset). Some persons using this survey mode answered some questions they should not have answered according to the conditioning rules of the questionnaire. In a few cases person filled in a paper&pencil-questionnaire which should not have done so according to the participation rules of the survey. Both cases of additional responses are contained in the datasets delievered to the data users. Please be aware of this peculiarity in preparing and analyzing the data. Variables and instruments are documented on For questions regarding the content of the data please contact data(at)
C - Data and documents are only released for academic research and teaching after the data depositor’s written authorization. For this purpose the Data Archive obtains a written permission with specification of the user and the analysis intention.
All metadata from GESIS DBK are available free of restriction under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. However, GESIS requests that you actively acknowledge and give attribution to all metadata sources, such as the data providers and any data aggregators, including GESIS. For further information see
Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA6701 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Is new version of
    DOI: 10.4232/1.12665
  • Hahn, E., Gottschling, J., Bleidorn, W. u.a. (2016) ‘What Drives the Development of Social Inequality Over the Life Course? The German TwinLife Study’, Twin Research and Human Genetics, 19(6), pp. 659–672. doi: 10.1017/thg.2016.76.

Update Metadata: 2017-12-28 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2017-09-27