The End of the Age-Crime Curve? A Historical Comparison of Male Arrest Rates in the United States, 1985–2019

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Abstract

As presented in this article, the overall arrest rate for males in the United States no longer peaks during the late teenage years, contrary to the traditional conceptualization of the age-crime curve. Instead of peaking around age 18 and falling throughout adulthood, the overall arrest rate in 2019 did not peak until age 27. Using a dissimilarity index, the results show that the age-crime curve for overall, violent and property offenses during 2019 differs significantly from that of 1985. However, the age-crime curve is still apparent within the data when examined by birth cohort. It appears that a sudden decline in the proportion of offenses committed by 15-to-19-year-old males is responsible for the shift in the aggregate/cross-sectional age-crime curve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-655
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2024

Keywords

  • age-crime curve
  • crime trends
  • historical
  • life-course
  • theory

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