Nuanced Effects of Status Transitions on Crime in Young Adulthood

Sonja Siennick, Florida State University
Jeremy Staff, Pennsylvania State University
D. Wayne Osgood, Pennsylvania State University
John Schulenberg, University of Michigan

When and why will movement into and out of adult statuses lead to changes in young adult crime? We use longitudinal data on thirty cohorts of young adults to examine the effects on crime of a broad set of family statuses, living arrangements, and student and work statuses. The status changes that most reduce crime are those that are likely to provide the clearest behavioral expectations and guidelines (e.g., entry into marriage, engagement, and professional work). Other statuses (e.g., parenthood and non-professional work) have weaker and inconsistent effects on crime. We also find that status changes can increase the odds of adult crime when they sever formal roles (e.g., divorce and widowhood) or when they immerse young adults in peer contexts. The observed relationships are not contingent on demographic factors or on cohort, which suggests that the mechanisms connecting adult statuses and crime are relatively time- and space-invariant.

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Presented in Poster Session 3