Does Criminality Diminish with Age? Disentangling the Forces of Selection from the Age Effect in the Age-Crime Relationship

Yunmei Lu, Pennsylvania State University
Jason R. Thomas, Pennsylvania State University

Literature addressing the age-crime relationship focuses on the aggregate level age-specific crime data without considering the individuals’ life course experience. This observed pattern could also be viewed from a cohort perspective acknowledging incarceration and mortality that remove cohort members from the population at risk. Since longitudinal data with incarceration and mortality information of multiple cohorts is not available, we propose a simulation approach to tease out the selection effects from the desistance effect in the decline of the age-crime curve. By simulating the criminal justice experience of multiple cohort members and taking into account their incarceration histories and mortality probabilities, the current study assesses the sensitivity of the age-crime curve to the censoring effects of incarceration and mortality. Moreover, we also explores the potential impact of criminal justice policy changes (i.e.: shortening the average sentencing length) on the age-crime curve by altering simulation parameters and comparing different scenarios.

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Presented in Session 99: Demography of Crime