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The Development of Persistent Criminality$
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Joanne Savage

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310313

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310313.001.0001

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Developmental Trajectories, Stressful Life Events, and Delinquency *

Developmental Trajectories, Stressful Life Events, and Delinquency *

(p.90) CHAPTER 5 Developmental Trajectories, Stressful Life Events, and Delinquency*
The Development of Persistent Criminality

Timothy O. Ireland

Craig J. Rivera

John P. Hoffmann

Oxford University Press

Chronic offenders have been a focal concern in criminology since Wolfgang et al. (1972) found that a small proportion of offenders account for a disproportionate amount of crime. Life-course criminology considers how criminal careers, or trajectories of crime, unfold over the life course with a focus on understanding “the initiation, continuation, and termination of offending behavior across the lifespan” (Piquero & Mazerolle, 2001, p. viii). General strain theory (GST) argues that the duration, recency, and chronicity of experienced strains might be important dimensions to consider when exploring the strain-delinquency relationship. Taken together these ideas—chronic offending, trajectories of crime, and time-varying constructs of strains or stressors—suggest the need for dynamic measures of crime and strain rather than more traditional static measures. Although much research has focused on the dynamic nature of delinquency, Sampson (2001) argues “that static background variables are surprisingly weak when it comes to the prospective explanation of trajectories of crime over the course of individual lives” (p. vi). In addition, little attention has been directed toward the dynamic nature of theoretically relevant covariates of delinquency and crime. Using longitudinal prospective data from the Family Health Study, we explore, with a particular focus on chronic offending, whether dynamic, time-varying measures of strain are more consistently related to dynamic measures of crime compared to static measures of strain.

Keywords:   strain theory, developmental trajectories, delinquency, life-course criminology, chronic offending

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