Marriage and offending specialization: Expanding the impact of turning points and the process of desistance

Jean Marie McGloin, Christopher J. Sullivan, Alex R. Piquero, Arjan Blokland, Paul Nieuwbeerta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Research consistently demonstrates that offending versatility declines over the life course, yet the underlying meaning of this empirical observation remains unclear. Empirical work has connected shifting routines and social networks with intra-individual changes in offending versatility, which are also primary mechanisms whereby turning points facilitate desistance from crime (that is, the decline in offending frequency over the life course). The current paper hypothesizes that the narrowing of offending variety over the life course is part of the desistance process and, therefore, should be facilitated by entry into marriage. Analyses using data from the Criminal Career and Life-Course Study, which follows Dutch offenders throughout most of their adult lives, provide support for the notion that marriage is related to within-individual declines in offending versatility, even when accounting for offending frequency. The discussion considers the impact of these results on the understanding of desistance from crime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-376
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • desistance
  • marriage
  • offenders
  • versatility

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