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  1. Abstract The study of (anti-)deuteron production in pp collisions has proven to be a powerful tool to investigate the formation mechanism of loosely bound states in high-energy hadronic collisions. In this paper the production of $$\text {(anti-)deuterons}$$ (anti-)deuterons is studied as a function of the charged particle multiplicity in inelastic pp collisions at $$\sqrt{s}=13$$ s = 13 TeV using the ALICE experiment. Thanks to the large number of accumulated minimum bias events, it has been possible to measure (anti-)deuteron production in pp collisions up to the same charged particle multiplicity ( $${\mathrm {d} N_{ch}/\mathrm {d} \eta } \sim 26$$ d N ch / d η ∼ 26 ) as measured in p–Pb collisions at similar centre-of-mass energies. Within the uncertainties, the deuteron yield in pp collisions resembles the one in p–Pb interactions, suggesting a common formation mechanism behind the production of light nuclei in hadronic interactions. In this context the measurements are compared with the expectations of coalescence and statistical hadronisation models (SHM).