Correlates of Early vs. Late Onset Criminality: A Life-Course and Self-Control Theory Analysis

Lizabeth Remrey


With over 12 million arrests made in 2011, it is no wonder that determining what factors cause criminal offending is of great interest to researchers, government officials, and the general public alike.  For years, researchers have been investigating the onset and frequency of criminal behavior with regards to the age of the offender, with research often indicating that offending begins in early to mid-adolescence and peaks in early adulthood.  A far less researched population of offenders are those in the adult-onset category, or those that do not follow the typical age-crime curve.  This research examines this under-researched area by evaluating risk factors for early (16 years or younger) and late (17 years or older) onset criminality.  The results are reviewed through the lenses of Life-Course and Self-Control theories in order to determine the correlates of early risk factors that predict either early or late criminal onset.  Using the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development (CSDD), logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between the self-control and life-course variables with age of onset of offending.  Results indicate that the self-control variables, specifically concentration and lying, were the strongest factors predicting the onset of criminal offending; indicating that Self-Control Theory may provide a more suitable explanation for the onset of criminal offending.  Policy implications are discussed.


Onset of Criminality; Life-Course Theory; Self-Control Theory

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.