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Low Self-control, Gender, Race, and Offending in Late Life

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2015
26 pages
This study used a representative sample of people aged 60 years and older from interviews conducted in Arizona and Florida in order to test two key propositions regarding the generality of the self-control theory: (1) the extent to which self-control accounts for the relationship between demographic variables and criminal offending, and (2) the invariance thesis, which stipulates that self-control will have a uniform effect on offending across social groups.
Self-control theory has been one of the most scrutinized general frameworks of crime for over 20 years. A majority of evidence pertaining to the theory, however, is derived from samples of teenagers and young adults. Relatively little information exists regarding whether self-control explains offending among people in late adulthood. As such, the generality of the framework has yet to be fully examined. The current analyses yielded two findings regarding theoretical generality: (1) low self-control explains late-life criminal behavior but does not account for the relationship between offending and gender; and (2) low self-control has an invariant effect on offending across gender and race when measured behaviorally. Taken together, the analyses address important elements of the supposed generality of self-control theory and extend the framework's scope to the explanation of offending in late life. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: May 1, 2015