342 Twin Advantage & Survival

Research by Sharrow, David., J., & Anderson, James, J. (2016).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Being a twin can have advantages, such as always having a friend around or someone to share blame with. Could being a twin have an overall survival advantage compared to the rest of us?

University of Washington researchers studied the difference between biological and social factors in determining survival.  Researchers reviewed data of almost 3,000 twin pairs in the Danish Twin Registry born in 1870-1900, now all deceased, and data from the Human Mortality Database. Identical twins showed a survival advantage over like-sexed fraternal twins. And these fraternal twins showed a survival advantage over the general public. They found that genetic factors (being an identical twin) were an advantage for males at older ages, while environmental factors contributed to all identical twins remaining alive at ages younger than 65. This result is very similar to other studies that have found the survival advantage of being married.

So why is this true?  The researchers attributed the reason to the “twin protection effect” which simply is that socially close relationships yields better survival outcomes throughout life.

This is great support for the simple idea that we all really thrive having close relationships!

We all need each other!


Sharrow, D., J., & Anderson, J., J. (2016). A twin protection effect? Explaining twin survival       advantages with a two-process mortality model. PLoS One, 11(5).

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