Academic Performance and Delinquency: Contemporaneous Effects

Gary Sweeten, University of Maryland at College Park

There is a growing body of work attempting to identify a causal relationship between academic performance and delinquent activity. While previous studies consistently find a relationship between academic performance and delinquency or later crime, causality is rarely estalished and numerous methodological problems persist. The current research will improve on previous studies of delinquency and schools by avoiding several commonly occurring methodological weaknesses: non-dynamic analysis, inadeqate controls for pre-existing differences, and reliance on self-report school and delinquency variables. Many studies examine later life outcoems of poor high school academic performance. This study will focus instead on the contemporaneous effect. Utilizing the richly detailed school transcript portion of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97), this research will address the following question: Does poor school performance predic delinquency independent of pre-existing differences

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Updated 05/20/2006