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Leaving the Bank of Mum and Dad: Financial Independence and Delinquency Desistance in Emerging Adulthood

Abstract

Purpose

Traditional markers of adulthood, such as marriage and parenthood, are being increasingly postponed by young adults in their 20s. Consequently, young people cite different criteria for achieving an adult status (Arnett in Youth and Society, 29:3–23, [5]). In this study, we focus on one of these, financial independence, examining how it relates to delinquency. We hypothesize that gaining financial independence, i.e., no longer receiving financial support from parents, will lead to a decrease in delinquent behavior but that other factors may play a moderating role in this.

Methods

Using longitudinal data from a general population sample of Dutch emerging adults, aged 18–24 years, fixed effects models were run examining the effect of within-person changes in financial independence on self-reported delinquent behavior.

Results

Using lagged models, we found that when participants were financially independent, they reported committing fewer delinquent offences in the subsequent 6-month period compared to when they were financially dependent. This effect was not moderated by individuals’ education or employment status or their living situation.

Conclusions

These results indicate that young people today desist from delinquency in response to gaining financial independence from parents. We discuss the role of financial independence as an important marker of adulthood.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    While strictly speaking on an empirical level desistance refers to a cessation of offending [13], using a count measure and capturing decreases in offending allows for a more nuanced examination of patterns in delinquency, particularly relevant when examining behavior over a relatively short period of time.

  2. 2.

    Young people with Moroccan and Dutch-Caribbean ethnicities are of all the ethnic minorities in the Netherlands the most highly over represented in the crime figures. Their criminal careers also appear to follow a different trajectory to that seen in the typical age-crime curve [31], hence their being oversampled in this study.

  3. 3.

    The reason for the higher mean interval to wave four interviews was that in order to increase participation at wave four, participants were repeatedly contacted, even when the period since their last interview had extended beyond 6 months or when they had not participated in the wave 2 and 3 interviews.

  4. 4.

    In the Netherlands, adult health insurance costs roughly €100 per month and the average mobile telephone bill is roughly €30 per month.

  5. 5.

    Refer to Allison [1] and Allison and Waterman [2] for a more detailed explanation of this method.

  6. 6.

    Details of data structure and syntax used are available from the authors on request.

  7. 7.

    Two participants were removed from the dataset as outliers, as they reported improbably high amounts of parental financial support.

  8. 8.

    A possible explanation for this increase at wave 4 is that a number of participants (N = 89) who did not participate in wave 2, wave 3, or either wave 2 or 3 participated again in wave 4.

  9. 9.

    As fixed effects panel models examine change, the results of our analyses are based on these 228 participants whose financial dependence status changed at least once over the first three interview waves.

  10. 10.

    Our measure of socioeconomic status is parental education level: high school or lower, some post-secondary education, and college/university education.

  11. 11.

    Equally, as becoming financially independence is related to decreases in delinquency is becoming financially dependence related to increases in delinquency. We focus on the former direction of effect as this is the most common in our sample.

  12. 12.

    We also examined whether gender or ethnicity moderated the effect of financial independence. None of these interaction terms were significant.

  13. 13.

    Results not shown, available from authors on request.

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Correspondence to Jessica M. Hill.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 Participants were asked if they had committed any of these 48 self-report offenses in the last 6 months, and if so how often

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Hill, J.M., van der Geest, V.R. & Blokland, A.A.J. Leaving the Bank of Mum and Dad: Financial Independence and Delinquency Desistance in Emerging Adulthood. J Dev Life Course Criminology 3, 419–439 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-017-0058-5

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Keywords

  • Life-course criminology
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Financial independence
  • Desistance