Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $25,000)
The aim of this study is to examine long-term consequences of adolescent gang membership. The central research question seeks to answer whether joining a gang in adolescence has a negative impact on life circumstances in early adulthood. This question will be examined using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth cohort, 1997. This dataset tracks 8,984 youth over 12 annual waves. Of these, 676 youth self-report gang membership. The study will employ group-based trajectory modeling, regression modeling, and counterfactual methods to assess the impact of gang-membership on latter educational, economic, and criminogenic life circumstances.
This research design will allow for the PI to account for self-selection into gangs by pairing individuals with adolescent gang membership with those without membership but with the same risk factors for gang participation. Thus, this research creates a direct test of theories of persistent heterogeneity and the state dependence theory concerning persistence and desistance in crime. The results of this study will thus be able to identify if gang-membership has an impact on life circumstances apart from the individual factors that make gang membership likely. This will help researchers and policymakers understand the effectiveness of programs to prevent gang membership and promote desistance from crime.