I wish to thank Thomas W. Pullum, Frank D. Bean, S. Dale McLemore, and Sheldon Ekland-Olson for their comments on this paper. The National Youth Survey data were provided by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan.
AGE, PEERS, AND DELINQUENCY*
Version of Record online: 7 MAR 2006
Volume 31, Issue 1, pages 17–40, February 1993
How to Cite
WARR, M. (1993), AGE, PEERS, AND DELINQUENCY. Criminology, 31: 17–40. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1993.tb01120.x
Mark Warr is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include group delinquency, rape. and the social psychology of crime and punishment.
- Issue online: 7 MAR 2006
- Version of Record online: 7 MAR 2006
Hirschi and Gottfredson (1983; Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990) have argued that the age distribution of crime cannot be explained by any known variables. and they point specifically to the failure of sociological theories to explain this phenomenon. This paper examines a quintessentially sociological theory of crime—differential association—and evaluates its ability to explain the age distribution of crime. Analysis of data from the National Youth Survey on persons aged 11–21 reveals that peer relations (exposure to delinquent peers, time spent with peers, loyalty to peers) change dramatically over this age span, following much the same pattern as crime itself When measures of peer influence are controlled, the effects of age on self-reported delinquency are largely rendered insignificant. Additional analyses show that delinquent friends tend to be “sticky” friends (once acquired, they are not quickly lost) and that Sutherland's arguments concerning the duration and priority of delinquent associations are only partially correct.