Intra-Individual Variability in Crime and Its Relation to Local Life Circumstances: A Comparison of Three Causal Models

Andre Rosay, University of Delaware
M. Lyn Exum, University of North Carolina - Charlotte

Horney et al (1995) examined how short-term intra-individual variations in criminal behavior were related to local life circumstances. Their analyses showed that changes in criminal behavior were "strongly related to variation in local life circumstances." Their results, however, fell short of establishing causality. Given that a non-spurious association between crime and life events exists, there are three possible forms for this association. First, life events may cause crime. Second, crime may cause life events. Third, life events and crime may have a reciprocal relationship. We do not deny the existence of a non-spurious relationship between life events and crime, but simply question the form of this relationship. While social bonds may affect criminal activity, it is also possible that criminal activity prevents the construction of social bonds. These different causal models are theoretically and empirically compared in a re-analysis of Horney et al.'s (1995) data.

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Updated 05/20/2006