Causal Effects in Twin Studies: The Role of Interference

Bonnie Smith, Elizabeth L. Ogburn, Matt McGue, Saonli Basu, Daniel O. Scharfstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of twins designs to address causal questions is becoming increasingly popular. A standard assumption is that there is no interference between twins—that is, no twin’s exposure has a causal impact on their co-twin’s outcome. However, there may be settings in which this assumption would not hold, and this would (1) impact the causal interpretation of parameters obtained by commonly used existing methods; (2) change which effects are of greatest interest; and (3) impact the conditions under which we may estimate these effects. We explore these issues, and we derive semi-parametric efficient estimators for causal effects in the presence of interference between twins. Using data from the Minnesota Twin Family Study, we apply our estimators to assess whether twins’ consumption of alcohol in early adolescence may have a causal impact on their co-twins’ substance use later in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jul 8 2020


  • Co-twin control method
  • Semi-parametric efficiency
  • Spillover effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Causal Effects in Twin Studies: The Role of Interference'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this