Life Course Research and the Shaping of Public Policy

  • John H. LaubEmail author
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Criminologists have long complained that public policies on crime and justice are often not consistent with empirical research. In this paper, I address this issue by arguing that in part the problem is that public policy is not placed in a larger conceptual framework and I argue that a life course perspective could go a long way in enriching public policies on crime and justice. In my paper, I draw on results from a long-term research project examining the life course of crime from childhood to old age. This research is then placed in the context of my recent experience directing the National Institute of Justice in the Department of Justice. Embracing what I call “translational criminology,” I conclude by highlighting several examples of how life course research can shape policies on crime and justice moving forward.


Crime Criminal justice Life course Public policy Translational criminology 



I thank Mike Shanahan, Monica Johnson, and Jeylan Mortimer for their comments on an earlier draft. I also thank Nicole Frisch and Shradha Sahani for their research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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