Drug-Crime Link in a Self-Control Perspective: An Empirical Test Among Swiss Juveniles

Denis Ribeaud, University of Lausanne
Manuel Eisner, University of Cambridge

The General Theory of Crime (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990) provides a specific framework for the understanding of the empirically well documented link between substance abuse and crime. Our research is focused on juveniles attending school who are -- if at all -- at the onset of their "career" of substance abuse. The basic question we address is to know whether self-control can -- as hypothesized in the GTC -- account for the covariance between crime and substance abuse. We then investigate whether specific subdimensions of the self-control construct (i.e. risk-seeking, self-centeredness etc.) are related to specific types of deviant behavior (i.e., substance abuse, property crimes, violence). These issues will be tested on the basis of a representative sample of 2'700 15 years old pupils of the canton of Zurich (Switzerland) using a version of Longshore et al.'s (1996) adapted attitudinal self-control scale (Grasmick et al. 1993). First, we consider the validity of the scale (dimensionality, invariance over relevant groups) using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and then address the above mentioned core questions using structural equation modeling methods and logistic regression, depending on the nature of the deviance scales. Preliminary findings indicate that in order to achieve unidimensionality a second order factor has to be introduced into the model. Even in that case not all subdimensions are substantially loading on the second-order factor.

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Updated 05/20/2006