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Press Release No. 64 | 7 December 2012
"Twinlife": Worldwide Unique Study on Social Inequality

DFG Sets Up New Long-Term Project / 4000 Twins as Participants / Questions about the Interaction of Genes and the Environment

How does social inequality develop? And how do genes and environmental factors interact in this? To clarify these questions, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is setting up a new long-term project. In this study, researchers at the Universities of Bielefeld and Saarbrücken will interview 4,000 twins at different stages of their lives to better understand how social inequality develops from individual differences. The title of this worldwide unique study is "Genetic and Social Causes of Life Chances. Establishing a Genetically Informative, Longitudinal Study of the Life Course and Individual Development (TWINLIFE)".

The cross-sequential, behavioural genetics study is set to last twelve years and will initially be funded with over four million euros over the next three years. The aim of the study is to learn more about the development of social inequality over the course of a lifetime. The participating psychologists and sociologists will focus on five major areas: Education and educational success, career and success in the labour market, integration and participation in social, cultural and political life, quality of life and realised opportunities for action, and behavioural problems and deviant behaviour. The data collected by the study will be made available to the scientific community.

The DFG’s long-term project funding in the area of behavioural and social sciences enables methodologically sophisticated studies to be conducted. The long-term planning horizon of up to twelve years enables large amounts of data to be collected and long-term change processes to be researched. The DFG’s long-term funding programme thus contributes significantly to the development of lasting infrastructures in the respective subject area.

Further Information

Additional information is available from the project leaders.

DFG programme contact: