Patterns of Crime Over the Life Course: Offending Trajectories in a Dutch Conviction Cohort

Arjan A. Blokland, NSCR
Daniel S. Nagin, Carnegie Mellon University
Paul Nieuwbeerta, NSCR Netherlands Institute for the Study

ABSTRACT
Empirical studies testing current developmental taxonomies in criminology typically analyze data covering criminal histories up until early adulthood. These studies leave questions unanswered on whether individuals though to be 'life course persisters' indeed persist in their offending behavior in (late) adulthood, and whether a group of offenders exist that starts offending later in life whilst non-offending during adolescence -- a group not accounted for in current taxonomies. This paper describes patterns of crime over the full life couse and addresses these questions. The paper analyses official data on the criminal histories of a nationally representative sample of 4,000 people convicted in the Netherlands in 1977. The long period over which data was gathered allows us to analyze the development of offending over the entire life span: i.e. from age 10 to age 70. The semi-parametric, group-based approach is used to analyze variation in offending trajectories and to test hypotheses on current developmental taxonomies.

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Updated 05/20/2006