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A Unique Bond: Twin Bereavement and Lifespan Associations of Identical and Fraternal Twins

Author

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  • van den Berg, Gerard J.

    () (University of Bristol)

  • Drepper, Bettina

    () (Tilburg University)

Abstract

Empirical analyses of twin mortality often use models with dependent unobserved frailty terms capturing genetic and childhood environmental determinants. This ignores that mortality rates can be co-dependent due to bereavement effects, i.e. to a time-dependent causal effect of the loss of the co-twin on the mortality rate of the surviving twin. We develop a novel methodology and perform an empirical analysis based on a comprehensive model incorporating both types of dependence. We prove full identification without functional-form restrictions and we estimate models with data on twin pairs from the Danish Twin Registry. Among men, the loss of an identical co-twin at age 75 causally reduces the remaining lifetime on average by more than a year. This bereavement effect is less severe among non-identical twins or if the loss occurs at a higher age. Estimates of correlations between the frailty terms by zygosity and the ensuing implications for the relative importance of mortality determinants are highly sensitive to whether bereavement is taken into account.

Suggested Citation

  • van den Berg, Gerard J. & Drepper, Bettina, 2018. "A Unique Bond: Twin Bereavement and Lifespan Associations of Identical and Fraternal Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 11448, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11448
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten & Portrait, France, 2011. "Conjugal bereavement effects on health and mortality at advanced ages," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 774-794, July.
    2. Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait & Gerard J. van den Berg, 2002. "An econometric analysis of the mental-health effects of major events in the life of older individuals," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 505-520.
    3. Gourieroux, Christian & Lu, Yang, 2015. "Love and death: A Freund model with frailty," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 191-203.
    4. Andreas Wienke & Kaare Christensen & Axel Skytthe & Anatoli I. Yashin, 2002. "Genetic analysis of cause of death in a bivariate lifetime model with dependent competing risks," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-013, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. repec:cup:astinb:v:47:y:2017:i:03:p:837-874_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bowling, Ann, 1987. "Mortality after bereavement: A review of the literature on survival periods and factors affecting survival," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 117-124, January.
    7. Manor, Orly & Eisenbach, Zvi, 2003. "Mortality after spousal loss: are there socio-demographic differences?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 405-413, January.
    8. Jaap H. Abbring & Gerard J. van den Berg, 2003. "The Nonparametric Identification of Treatment Effects in Duration Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1491-1517, September.
    9. Chris Elbers & Geert Ridder, 1982. "True and Spurious Duration Dependence: The Identifiability of the Proportional Hazard Model," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 403-409.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    mortality; longevity; duration; frailty; genetic determinants; hazard rate; identification; loss of co-twin;

    JEL classification:

    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality

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