European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 523–537 | Cite as

How Much Variance in Offending, Self-Control and Morality can be Explained by Neighbourhoods and Schools? An Exploratory Cross-Classified Multi-Level Analysis

  • Lieven J. R. PauwelsEmail author
  • Frank M. Weerman
  • Gerben J. N. Bruinsma
  • Wim Bernasco


Criminological studies of contextual effects on adolescent offending have focused either on residential areas (considering effects of characteristics like disadvantage and collective efficacy) or on school characteristics (studying effects of organisation and social climate, for example). However, adolescents are simultaneously exposed to multiple contexts, and the influence of these contexts on their lives should be studied simultaneously rather than separately. The principal subject of this contribution lies in analysing to which extent there is unique neighbourhood level variation and unique school level variation in adolescent offending, and in two major and stable correlates of adolescent offending, morality and low self-control. Data are used from the Study of Peers, Activities and Neighbourhoods (SPAN), with 612 adolescents in various schools and neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. The results show that there is no unique neighbourhood level variance anymore after controlling for unique school level variance, while some variation at the school level still remains with regard to self-control and morality.


Adolescent offending Contextual effects Multilevel analysis Neighbourhoods Schools Social ecology Variance components 



We thank Per-Olof Wikström for sharing the questionnaire and the space-time budget interview that were developed in the Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+), Beth Hardie and Caroline Moul for training our interview staff, and Kirsten Grandia, Evelien Hoeben and Lieneke Spel for coordinating the data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lieven J. R. Pauwels
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frank M. Weerman
    • 2
  • Gerben J. N. Bruinsma
    • 2
  • Wim Bernasco
    • 2
  1. 1.Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, NSCRAmsterdamNetherlands

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