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Age and Crime

Age-crime Patterns For The U.s., Variations In The Age Curve, Variations In Criminal Careers

The view that involvement in crime diminishes with age is one of the oldest and most widely accepted in criminology. Beginning with the pioneering research by Adolphe Quetelet in the early nineteenth century, criminological research consistently has confirmed that (the proportion of) the population involved in crime tends to peak in adolescence or early adulthood and then decline with age. This age-crime relationship is remarkably similar across historical periods, geographic locations, and crime types.

That the impact of age on criminal involvement is one of the strongest factors associated with crime has prompted the controversial claim that the age-crime relationship is universal and invariant (Hirschi and Gottfredson). However, considerable variation exists among offenses and across historical periods in specific features of the age-crime relationship (for example, peak age, median age, rate of decline from peak age). A claim of "invariance" in the age-crime relationship therefore overstates the case (Steffensmeier et al., 1989).

DARRELL STEFFENSMEIER

JEFFERY ULMER

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law