Does the birth of a first child reduce the father's offending?

Theobald, Delphine, Farrington, David P. and Piquero, Alex R. (2013) Does the birth of a first child reduce the father's offending? In: Stockholm Criminology Symposium 2013; 10 - 12 Jun 2013, Stockholm, Sweden. (Unpublished)


The family has been considered an integral part of many criminological theories, with parents bearing responsibility for socializing children and thus indirectly affecting criminal behaviour. Over the past decade or so, the role of marriage within the family sphere has received renewed attention, with findings across different samples in different countries consistently showing that marriages generally, but good quality marriages in particular, reduce persistence in crime and aid the desistance process. A much less investigated aspect of families is the effect of having a child on continued or curtailed offending. Those studies that have investigated this question have been limited in some respects, primarily with respect to potential selection effects. This paper seeks to overcome this and other limitations by examining the effects of having a child on offending using propensity score matching. It analyses data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, a longitudinal study of 411 South London males followed since age 10 and into middle adulthood. Findings indicate that, while reductions in offending, from several years before the child's birth to several years after the child's birth, are associated with having a child, the effects are not large. Further analyses suggest that, if a man remains with his child for at least 5 years, then reductions in his convictions are greater than if he does not. Possible explanations for these results are discussed as are areas for future research.

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