Investigating the Functional Form of the Selfcontrol–Delinquency Relationship in a Sample of Serious Young Offenders
 Christopher J. Sullivan,
 Thomas Loughran
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Objective
This work further examines the functional form of the selfcontrol–delinquency relationship as an extension of recent work by Mears et al. (J Quant Criminol, 2013). Given the importance of the authors’ conclusions regarding the nonlinear relationship between these two variables and the recognition that there are some potential limitations in the sample and assumptions required for the analytic methods used, we apply both similar and alternative techniques with a data set comprised of serious youthful offenders to determine whether key findings can be replicated.
Methods
Data from the Pathways to Desistance study, which comprise extensive individual and social history interviews with 1,354 offenders over multiple waves spread out over 84 months, is utilized in this analysis. These data are wellsuited to investigating the questions of interest as the target population comprises youth with offending histories that are more extensive than those likely to be found in general surveys of adolescents. The analyses consider the selfcontrol–delinquency relationship in an alternative sample with the previously used Generalized Propensity Score (GPS) procedure, which requires strong assumptions, as well as nonparametric regression which requires far weaker assumptions to consider the functional form of the selfcontrol–delinquency relationship.
Results
The results generally show that the identified functional form of the selfcontrol–delinquency relationship seems to be at least partly dependent on aspects of the modeling of dose–response associated with GPS procedures. When nonparametric general additive models are used with the same data, the relationship between selfcontrol and delinquency seems to be approximately linear.
Conclusions
Identifying functional form relationships has importance for many criminological theories, but it is a task that requires that the balance of model assumptions to exploratory data analysis falls toward the latter. Nonparametric approaches to such questions may be a necessary first step in learning about the nature of mechanisms presumed to be at work in important explanations for crime and criminality.
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 Title
 Investigating the Functional Form of the Selfcontrol–Delinquency Relationship in a Sample of Serious Young Offenders
 Journal

Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Volume 30, Issue 4 , pp 709730
 Cover Date
 20141201
 DOI
 10.1007/s109400149220y
 Print ISSN
 07484518
 Online ISSN
 15737799
 Publisher
 Springer US
 Additional Links
 Topics
 Keywords

 Functional form
 General theory of crime
 Generalized Propensity Score
 Nonparametric models
 Industry Sectors
 Authors

 Christopher J. Sullivan ^{(1)}
 Thomas Loughran ^{(2)}
 Author Affiliations

 1. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA
 2. University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA