College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, 634 West Call St., Tallahassee, FL 32306-1127.
Marriage and Desistance From Crime: A Consideration of Gene–Environment Correlation
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2012
Copyright © National Council on Family Relations, 2012
Journal of Marriage and Family
Volume 74, Issue 1, pages 19–33, February 2012
How to Cite
Barnes, J. C. and Beaver, K. M. (2012), Marriage and Desistance From Crime: A Consideration of Gene–Environment Correlation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74: 19–33. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2011.00884.x
This article was edited by Deborah S. Carr.
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2012
- Add Health;
- behavioral genetics;
- gene–environment correlation;
An impressive body of research has examined the effect of marriage on desistance from a criminal career. Although extensive efforts have been made to control for potential confounders, almost no research has considered the role that genetic influences play in the relationship. In this study, the authors revisited the marriage–desistance connection by analyzing sibling data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health; Ns ranged between 2,224 and 3,745 siblings) and by using a statistical design that controls for confounding genetic influences. The findings revealed that both marriage and desistance were under genetic influence (h2 = .56 and .49, respectively). In addition, before controlling for shared genetic influences, marriage was predictive of desistance. After genetic influences were controlled, the marriage effect remained statistically significant but was reduced by 60%. The implications of these findings for life course criminology are considered.