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Chinese Birth Cohort: Theoretical Implications

NCJ Number
Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 42 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2005 Pages: 123-146
Date Published
May 2005
24 pages

This article reports on the completion of the study of delinquency factors in a birth cohort in China that was begun in 1989 by Marvin Wolfgang but not completed by him.


The original cohort consisted of all persons born in 1973 in the Wuchang District of the city of Wuhan. This was the first cohort born under China's one-child-a-family policy implemented in major urban areas in 1972. The data were obtained from two different samples. Between 1991 and 1992, the 722,599 individual residential registration files in each of the 12 neighborhood police offices were reviewed to identify those meeting the age and residency requirements who had records of delinquent or criminal behavior. Of the 5,341 born in 1973, 81 persons (1.5 percent) had such records; 76 were male, and 5 were female. This group was identified by Wolfgang et al. as Group A for research purposes. From the 5,341 in the cohort, a control sample of 81 was matched by gender, neighborhood background, parents' economic status, occupation, and neighborhood school district. This matched sample was identified as Group B. Members of both groups were interviewed between 1991 and 1992. The second set of data consisted of information obtained in 2000. This data did not match the original cohort due to the increased population mobility. Findings on delinquency and crime were compared with the findings of the dominant Western literature on the major common factors linked with delinquency. Significant differences were found between delinquents and nondelinquents in peer influences, family influences, and school. School factors associated with offending were level of education completed, dropout status, and interactions between students and teachers. Offenders were about five times more likely than nonoffenders to associate with delinquent peers. 5 tables, 1 figure, and 68 references

Date Published: May 1, 2005