Does Age Have a Direct Effect on Delinquency? General Theory vs. Developmental Theory

Cheong Sun Park, University of Chicago

ABSTRACT
Hirschi and Gottfredson (1983) rekindled an interest of most criminologists on the relationship between age and crime. Out of six propositions raised by them, following two are notable. First, the shape of age-crime curve is invariant over time and place so that the age effect cannot be used to explain the crime phenomenon by criminologists. Second, age has a direct effect on crime rates, as the age effect on crime cannot be explained with other available concepts than age itself. In sum, age has a direct effect on crime rate so that there is no intervening variables between age and crime that might vary the relationship between age and crime. However, I argue that there surely is an intervening mechanism between age and crime such that control process and associational process that vary over age exert a crucial role in explaining the relationship between age and crime. More specifically, I am interested in whether control process and associational process are differentiated between middle schools and high schools (Hellman and Beaton 1986 from Welsh et al: 82). I tentatively hypothesize that while the control process is more likely to be manifested in the middle school, the associational process is more likely to be manifested in the high school.

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Updated 05/20/2006