Criminal Offending and Mortality over the Full Life-Course: A 70-Year Follow-up of the Cambridge–Somerville Youth Study
- 183 Downloads
To investigate the relationship between criminal offending and mortality over the full life-course of treatment group participants in the Cambridge–Somerville Youth Study (CSYS).
The CSYS is a delinquency prevention experiment and prospective longitudinal survey of the development of offending. Begun in 1939, the study involves 506 at-risk boys, ages 5–13 years (mean birth year = 1928), from Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Following the analytic strategy of Joan McCord, participants are drawn from the study’s longitudinal arm (N = 253). Data include court convictions of criminal offenses collected during middle age (mean = 47) and death records collected during old age (up to age 89). Death records were collected for 216 participants or 85.4% of the sample.
Life-course persistent offenders experience earlier mortality compared to non-offenders (by about 7 years) and adolescent-limited offenders (by about 8 years). While life-course persistent offenders are not more likely to die early (< 40 years) compared to other trajectory groups, they are more likely to experience premature mortality from late middle age into old age. Life-course persistent offenders are also more likely to experience unnatural deaths, with alcoholism confounding the relationship.
That group differences in mortality risk did not emerge until age 55 (while offending is in decline) suggests that the relationship between offending and mortality is not direct and may be spurious. Knowledge about the relationship between criminal offending and mortality can be greatly improved by following participants into old age.
KeywordsCriminal offending Mortality Life-course Offending trajectories Cambridge–Somerville Youth Study
We wish to thank the journal editor and the anonymous reviewers for especially helpful comments.
- Bell FC, Miller ML (2005) Life tables for the United States social security area 1900–2100: Actuarial study, No. 120. Social Security Administration, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- Cabot RC (1935) Letter to Miss Gertrude Duffy, June 3, 1935. HUG 4255: Box 97. Richard Clarke Cabot Papers, Pusey Library, Harvard University ArchivesGoogle Scholar
- Cabot PSdeQ (1940) A long-term study of children: the Cambridge–Somerville Youth Study. Child Dev 11:143–151Google Scholar
- Farrington DP (2011) Families and crime. In: Wilson JQ, Petersilia J (eds) Crime and public policy. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Farrington DP (2013) Longitudinal and experimental research in criminology. In: Tonry M (ed) Crime and justice 1975–2025. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Farrington DP (2018) Personal communication with the corresponding author, July 2, 2018Google Scholar
- Farrington DP, Loeber R, Welsh BC (2010) Longitudinal-experimental studies. In: Piquero AR, Weisburd D (eds) Handbook of quantitative criminology. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Glueck S, Glueck E (1950) Unraveling juvenile delinquency. Commonwealth Fund, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Gottfredson MR, Hirschi T (1990) A general theory of crime. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
- Kinner SA, Preen DB, Kariminia A, Butler T, Andrews JY, Stoové M, Law M (2011) Counting the cost: estimating the number of deaths among recently released prisoners in Australia. Med J Aust 195:64–68Google Scholar
- Laub JH, Sampson RJ (2003) Shared beginnings, divergent lives: delinquent boys to age 70. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- McCord J (1981) Consideration of some effects of a counseling program. In: Martin SE, Sechrest LB, Redner R (eds) New directions in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders. National Academy Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- McCord J (1984) A longitudinal study of personality development. In: Mednick SA, Harway M, Finello KM (eds) Handbook of longitudinal research, vol 2. Praeger, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- McCord W, McCord J (1959b) Origins of crime: a new evaluation of the Cambridge–Somerville Youth Study. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Powers E, Witmer HL (1951) An experiment in the prevention of delinquency: the Cambridge–Somerville Youth Study. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar