Desistance and Persistance in Self-Reported Delinquency: Trajectories and Correlates in Young Adulthood

Margit Wiesner, Oregon Social Learning Center
Deborah M. Capaldi, Oregon Social Learning Center
Gerald R. Patterson, Oregon Social Learning Center

In the past years, the examination of life-course trajectories of delinquent and criminal behavior from childhood to adulthood has become increasingly prominent in criminology. Thereby, the more recent studies began to focus on patterns of behavior over time within individuals or groups of individuals instead of relations between variables in a given population. This person-oriented approach is applied to 184 males from the Oregon Youth Study. The study participants filled out the Elliott Delinquency Scale (Elliott et al., 1983) at twelve annual assessment waves (mean age at first wave = 12.85, SD = .41). Using a theoretical classification scheme, three trajectories of delinquency were identified: desisters (n = 45), persisters (n = 76) and abstainers (n = 63). Our next research goal is to inquire into antecedents and correlates of different trajectories in delinquency. In a first step, the three groups will be compared on a broad range of measures from the last assessment wave, that is, sociodemographics (e.g., education, employment status, marital status), social capital (e.g., risky neighborhood, perceived emotional support from partner) and indicators of maladjustment (e.g., substance use, depression). Preliminary results suggest, for instance, that the persisters live in more risky neighborhoods than the abstainers and desisters.

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Updated 05/20/2006