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Live Fast, Die Young: Anticipated Early Death and Adolescent Violence and Gang Involvement

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2016
184 pages

Using two longitudinal data sets, this study examined the impact of an adolescent's anticipation of an early death (AED) on his/her violent behavior and gang activity.


The study found that higher levels of AED corresponded to a greater likelihood of violence and gang activity, with this link often mediated by low self-control. The two data sets used in this study were the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which offers a nationally representative sample of adolescents, and the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS), which provides a sample of at-risk youth in Rochester, NY. Structural equation modeling quantified adolescent AED in each data set. In an attempt to determine the causal ordering of AED and risk-taking behaviors, the study used the longitudinal nature of the RYDS data by estimating autoregressive cross-lagged panel models. These findings support the life history theory's assumption that AED predicts risk-taking behavior. There was little evidence that engaging in violence or gang activity preceded the emergence of AED. 22 tables, 7 figures, 97 references, and appended coding of project variables by data set and supplementary information on methodological procedures

Date Published: December 1, 2016