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Abstract

Background Crime runs in families. Previous research has shown the existence of intergenerational transmission of criminal behaviour.

Aim The aim of the present study was to investigate the extent to which variation in criminal convictions may be explained by the criminality of siblings and by the intergenerational transmission of criminal behaviour.

Method Data from the Dutch Criminal Career and Life-course Study (CCLS) were used to analyse cross-tabulations and to conduct multi-level logistic regression analyses.

Results The results indicate that criminal convictions of other family members are indeed correlated with individual conviction risk. The criminal history of siblings is most strongly correlated with the convictions of focal respondents. Results furthermore show that parental convictions only account modestly for the association of criminal convictions between siblings.

Conclusions These findings indicate that a direct influence between siblings is plausible, providing support for learning or imitation theories. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.