Race, the economic maturity gap, and criminal offending in young adulthood

Dana L. Haynie, Harald E. Weiss, Alex Piquero

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38 Citations (Scopus)


While research has documented that racial and ethnic groups are differentially involved in juvenile and adult crime, little research has examined whether economic and employment well-being can explain Black and White adolescents' persistence in criminal activity into young adulthood. One potential explanation emerges from Moffitt, who posits an economic maturity gap to explain Blacks' greater persistence in offending in young adulthood. To evaluate this hypothesis, we draw on three waves of data available in the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to examine whether economic and employment well-being in young adulthood can account for the racial gap, and persistence in offending. Findings are consistent with Moffitt's hypothesis and indicate that economic and employment well-being in young adulthood explain Blacks' greater involvement in criminal and violent offending in young adulthood. In addition, results indicate that the greater tendency of Blacks, compared to Whites, to persist in violent offending is also driven by the reduced economic and employment well-being that Blacks face in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-622
Number of pages28
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Economic disadvantage
  • Life course
  • Race
  • Violence

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