What drives the development of social inequality over the life course? The German TwinLife Study.


The German twin family study ‘TwinLife’ was designed to enhance our understanding of the development of social inequalities over the life course. The interdisciplinary project investigates mechanisms of social inequalities across the lifespan by taking into account psychological as well as social mechanisms, and their genetic origin as well as the interaction and covariation between these factors. Main characteristics of the study are: (1) a multidimensional perspective on social inequalities, (2) the assessment of developmental trajectories in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood in a longitudinal design by using (3) a combination of a multi-cohort cross-sequential and an extended twin family design, while (4) capturing a large variation of behavioral and environmental factors in a representative sample of about 4,000 German twin families. In the present article, we first introduce the theoretical and empirical background of the TwinLife study, and second, describe the design, content, and implementation of TwinLife. Since the data will be made available as scientific use file, we also illustrate research possibilities provided by this project to the scientific community.