Race Differences in Life-Course Persistent Offending

Alex R. Piquero, University of Florida
Terrie E. Moffitt, Kings College London
Brian Lawton, Temple University

Race differences in criminal behavior have been detected via both official and self-reported protocols. In this study, we attempt to understand these differences within the context of an integrated individual, familial, and neighborhood model of life-course-persistent offending. Using recent theoretical frameworks outlined by Sampson and Moffitt, we employ data from the Baltimore portion of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project to study race differences in both etiological and outcome variables. Our results show that several variables help distinguish between white and nonwhite patterns of chronic offending, but that the differences appear to lie in the level of risk factors as opposed to the developmental processes among groups defined by race. In accord with Moffitt's biosocial hypothesis, we found that, among nonwhites, low birth weight met with adverse familial environments (measured at birth) predicted chronic offending by age 27/33. When the interaction was estimated across groups defined by race and neighborhood disadvantage (low/high), it was only predictive of chronic offending for nonwhites reared in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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Updated 05/20/2006