A partial, age-graded examination of Agnew’s general theory of crime and delinquency


Slepicka, Jessie (2019). A partial, age-graded examination of Agnew's general theory of crime and delinquency.


Previous examinations of Agnew’s (2005) general theory of crime and delinquency have garnered mixed results for the theoretical construct. These previous investigations have concentrated on a singular stage of an individual’s life—with analyses focusing on either the adolescent (Muftić, Grubb, Bouffard, & Maljević, 2014; Ngo & Paternoster, 2014; Roh & Marshall, 2018; Zhang, Day, & Cao, 2012) or the adult (Cochran, 2017; Ngo, Paternoster, Cullen, & Mackenzie, 2011) time juncture—failing to empirically assess the variability hypothesis centrally proposed by Agnew. Using data from a nationally representative sample of participants—the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health [n = 20,745 (Wave I), 14,738 (Wave II), 15,917 (Wave III), and 15,701 (Wave IV)]—Agnew’s general theory was applied to multiple junctures of an individual’s life (adolescence and adulthood), which provided one of the first agegraded assessments of the theoretical construct. Poisson and negative binomial regression models were constructed and analyzed, with each generated model representing a significant improvement in fit over the null/intercept-only model. Moreover, Agnew’s variability hypothesis obtained considerable empirical support, ultimately highlighting the various life domains (self and peer for adolescence; self and family for adulthood) most influential at differing time junctures. These multitude of findings led to the championing of crime prevention/behavior modification programs that specifically target the correlates of crime and delinquency that this analysis found to be most significant in predicting engagement in crime/delinquency. A few model programs argued for within are the Gang Resistance and Education Training program, the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program, and Multisystemic Therapy.



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Book Title

Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice


Slepicka, Jessie

Series Author(s)

Iannacchione, Brian M.

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University of Northern Colorado

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