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 (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Mönkediek, Bastian (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Schulz, Wiebke (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Schunck, Reinhard (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Baier, Tina (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Bartling, Annika (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Baum, Myriam A. (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Eifler, Eike F. (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Hufer, Anke (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Kaempfert, Merit (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Klatzka, Christoph H. (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Krell, Kristina (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Lang, Volker (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Lenau, Franziska (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Nikstat, Amelie (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Peters, Anna-Lena (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Weigel, Lena (Universität Bielefeld)
Publication Date
  • TNS Infratest / Kantar TNS (first Face-to-Face household survey, parts of the first telephone survey) (Data Collector)
  • infas Institut für angewandte Sozialwissenschaft (parts of the first telephone survey) (Data Collector)
  • ZA:
    • Political Attitudes and Behavior
    • Occupation, Profession
    • Society, Culture
    • Community, Living Environment
    • Family
    • Education, School Systems
    • Person, Personality, Role
  • CESSDA Topic Classification:
    • Labour and employment
    • Post-compulsory education
    • Compulsory and pre-school education
    • Social conditions and indicators
    • Drug abuse, alcohol and smoking
    • Specific diseases and medical conditions
    • Mass political behaviour, attitudes / opinion
    • Psychology
    • Social stratification and groupings
    • Family life and marriage
    • Equality and inequality
    • Housing
  • 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. Skill formation and education 1.1 Educational success: - School report; if not available: supplementary questions - Current school marks or rather marks of highest graduation 1.2 Intelligence - Subtests Matrices, Series, and Classification - Subtests Matrices, Series, Reasoning, Classification 1.3 Cognitive development - General information derived from "U-Heft"; if not available: supplementary questions - Interviewer rating on task orientation and oral skills following intelligence test - Tutoring and homework help/special educational treatment/attendance of special school - Competence rating of social skills, oral skills, concentration ability, communications skills, mathematic ability, general knowledge 1.4 Media use - Frequency and duration of media use (e.g., Internet, Laptop, TV, games console etc.) 1.5 Academic self-concept - Verbal and spatial skills, spatial and general - Verbal, mathematic, and general academic ability - Perceived competence 1.6 Intrinsic motivation, learning motivation, achievement motivation - Educational values of German, maths, and school in general - Learning and achievement motivation in German, maths, and school in general - Learning goals 1.7 Self-efficacy - General self-efficacy 1.8 Self-esteem - General self-esteem 1.9 Self-regulation - Consistency of interest, self-control 1.10 Personality - Neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness 2. Career and labor market attainment 2.1 Employment status - Current employment status/changes regarding employment 2.2 Education - History of education - Education and qualification - Educational and career aspirations 2.3 Information on current job - Perceived job security and satisfaction - Wages/income/welfare dependency 2.4 Economic preferences - Risk aversion 3. Integration and participation in social, cultural, and political life 3.1 Migration background and citizenship - Current status of citizenship and changes of citizenship - Migration 3.2 Discrimination - Experiences with discrimination 3.3 Social participation - Frequency of attendance in sports clubs, theatre, music groups or volunteer organizations 3.4 Social networks - Social capital of individuals, e.g., close friends, frequency of social contacts - Loneliness 3.5 Political participation - Interest in politics, political preferences, voting behavior 3.6 Religion - Religious affiliation, church attendance, religiosity/spirituality 4. Subjective perceptions of quality of life 4.1 Life satisfaction - Global life satisfaction - Domain satisfaction (health, work life, family life, leisure time, school, romantic relationship, friendships, income) - Satisfaction with sibling relationship 5. Physical and psychological health 5.1 Health - Current subjective health - Current subjective health - Health behavior 5.2 Measures of height and weight - Measure of actual height and/or weight, if not remembered, scale measure during INTH 6. Deviant behavior and behavioral problems 6.1 Internalizing - Emotional symptoms, problems with peers, social difficulties 6.2 Externalizing - Hyperactivity, attention problems, behavioral difficulties 6.3 Deviant and delinquent behavior - Occurrence and frequency of problematic behavior (e.g., fare evasion, skip school, drug use, thieving, property damage, physical assault) - Supplementary questions on e.g., impulse control and rebellious behavior - Short version of deviant/delinquent behavior measure 7. Demographics 7.1 Information on household - Household questionnaire (persons in the household, household grid, type of dwelling, income), information on assets 8. Environment 8.1 Activities with children - Occurrence and frequency of e.g., singing and making music together; story time; doing sports; cultural activities 8.2 Nursery - Detailed information on nursery and daycare institutions 8.3 Grand-parents - Relationship: contact frequency, quality of relationship 8.4 Parenting style - Monitoring, warmth, rules, negative communication, control (child and parent report on parental behavior) 8.5 Quality of home environment - Characteristics of a chaotic, disorganized, and hurried home - Interviewer ratings on the home environment (household) 8.6 Involvement - Autonomy, structure, control, emotional support 8.7 Sibling relationship - Warmth, conflict, rivalry of sibling relationship - Affection, hostility, rivalry of sibling relationship 9. Zygosity and twin specific items 9.1 Zygosity - Ratings of physical twin similarity in childhood (e.g., eye color, hair structure, time of getting first teeth) 9.2 Twin specific questions - E.g., same or different clothing, confusion of the twins, undertakings with twins
Temporal Coverage
  • 2014-10-01 / 2015-05-31
  • 2015-10-01 / 2016-04-30
  • 2016-10-01 / 2017-04-30
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
  • F2F1: 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. CATI1: individual and household interviews by phone.
Data and File Information
  • Number of Variables: 3046
The data release consists of eight data files. One master data set: includes information on the gross sample, such as time stable variables (sex, year of birth, relation to twins, zygotie) and wave-specific variables (person type, response status) about all individuals included in TwinLife in each wave. One SUF data set in person-wave-format: Each surveyed person has one data row for each survey wave. Two SUF data sets in family-format (one data set for each survey wave): Each family has one data row. Two data sets (one in family and person format, respectively) containing additionally generated scales, e.g. on personality and parenting style. In addition, the data release contains a data file with the information of the twin zygosity assessment and a data file documenting the survey mode for each variable on the individual level. The data are adjusted for filter errors, i.e. data that was collected due to wrong filter conditions has been overwritten. Variables and instruments are documented at . 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.)
  • 1 (Type: VerbundFDB)
  • Is new version of
    DOI: 10.4232/1.13072
  • Is new version of
    DOI: 10.4232/1.12888
  • 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.
  • Baier, T., Lang, V. (2019, in press) ‘The social stratification of environmental and genetic influences on education: New evidence using a register-based twin sample’, Sociological Science.
  • Gottschling, J., Hahn, E., Beam, C. R., Spinath, F. M., Carroll, S., Turkheimer, E. (2019) ‘Socioeconomic status amplifies genetic effects in middle childhood in a large German twin sample’, Intelligence, 72, pp. 20-27. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2018.11.006.
  • Kandler, C., Waaktaar , T., Mõttus , R., Riemann, R., & Torgersen, S. (2019, in press). ‘Unraveling the Complex Interplay between Genetic and Environmental Contributions in the Unfolding of Inter-Individual Personality Variability from Childhood to Adulthood’, European Journal of Personality.
  • Klassen, L., Eifler, E. F., Hufer, A., Riemann, R. (2019, in press) ‘Why do people differ in their achievement motivation? A behavioral genetic study using the Nuclear Twin Family Design’, Primenjena psihologija.
  • Bleidorn, W., Hufer, A., Kandler, C., Hopwood, C. J., Riemann, R. (2018) ‘A Nuclear Twin Family Study of Self-Esteem’, European Journal of Personality, 32(3), pp. 221-232. doi: 10.1002/per.2136.
  • Kornadt, A. E., Hufer, A., Kandler, C., Riemann, R. (2018) ‘On the genetic and environmental sources of social and political participation in adolescence and early adulthood’, PLOS ONE, 13(8), pp. 1-16. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202518.

Update Metadata: 2019-04-24 | Issue Number: 4 | Registration Date: 2019-01-17