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Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Data Collection and Analysis in the Study of Crime and Delinquency

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1990) Pages: 11-55
S Menard; D S Elliott
Date Published
45 pages
In response to recent debates, this study examines empirical evidence on the extent to which longitudinal and cross-sectional data may be used interchangeably without altering substantive conclusions.
This study compares correlations and predictive models that use cross-sectional and longitudinal data to study the same substantive problem and goes on to an examination of the issue of temporal order as a test of competing hypotheses. The conclusion drawn is that longitudinal data collected in a cross-sectional design do not consistently produce the same results as longitudinal data collected in a prospective longitudinal design, and that longitudinal and cross-sectional data do not consistently yield the same substantive results in correlation and prediction models. Longitudinal data allow the researcher to generate strong tests of competing hypotheses which would otherwise be impossible. Cross-sectional data, or longitudinal data collected in cross-sectional designs, are inadequate substitutes for prospectively collected longitudinal data in the study of crime and delinquency. 9 tables and 68 references. (Author abstract modified)