Trajectories of criminal offending: Does timing of transition into parenthood matter?


Ziegler, Jessica (2016). Trajectories of criminal offending: Does timing of transition into parenthood matter?. 2016 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Over the past thirty years, criminological research has developed a larger focus on the process of desistance from crime. Scholarship in this field has found particular life course transitions, including marriage, employment, and the military to serve as turning points in decreasing criminal involvement (Sampson and Laub 1990; Uggen 2000). The relationship between parenthood and criminal desistance, however, has produced largely mixed results, calling into question whether parenthood is related to decreases in crime (Sienneck and Osgood 2008). Prior research on parenthood and desistance has yet to fully explore whether the timing of this transition, which is one of Elder’s (1994) core principles of life course research, changes the nature of criminal involvement. I use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine the relationship between the timing of the transition into parenthood and both non-violent and violent criminal trajectories. Results from growth curve trajectory models illustrate that individuals who transition into parenthood during both adolescence and adulthood experience initial decreases in non-violent and violent crime, but the initial decrease in crime is diminished as time increases. Significant interactions between parenthood timing, neighborhood poverty, and gender provide evidence that adolescent transitions into parenthood are less beneficial for those who are from impoverished neighborhoods and females. The implications and future directions for research regarding the relationship between parenthood and criminal desistance are also discussed.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2016 Add Health Users Conference


Ziegler, Jessica

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID