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Like Father, Like Son: The Relationships Between Conviction Trajectories of Fathers and Their Sons and Daughters

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2008 Pages: 538-556
Marieke Van De Rakt; Paul Nieuwbeerta; Nan Dirk De Graaf
Date Published
July 2008
19 pages
This Dutch study examined the relationship between convictions of fathers and the convictions of their children (sons and daughters) over the lifespan.
The findings confirm previous research in showing that the number of convictions of fathers was significantly related to the number of convictions of their children, even after controlling for age and sex. The chance of a child’s conviction was especially high for children whose fathers were classified as “moderate-rate desisters” and “high-rate persisters.” Offense trajectories of children from control fathers and fathers who were “sporadic offenders” were characterized by low offending chances throughout their life courses. Children of fathers classified as persistent criminals tended to commit more delinquent acts in every phase of their lives. Their delinquent behavior also began much earlier. The researchers advise that since they only had access to official data, the findings probably underestimate the total number of delinquent acts. Thus, more research on the intergenerational transmission of criminal behavior is needed. This study analyzed data of the Criminal Career and Life Course Study, which was established by the Netherlands’ Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement. It contains information on a representative sample of 4 percent of all cases of criminal offenses tried in the Netherlands in 1977. Extracts from the General Documentation files of the Criminal Record Office were used to construct entire criminal careers of 4,615 research subjects (344 women and 4,271 men). This information was supplemented by population registration data on their entire life course up to 2003. Both criminal career and life-course information was available over their entire life course up to the year 2003. Data were used only on the criminal careers of the 4,271 men. Fathers had a total of 8,266 children. 6 tables, 4 figures, and 38 references