Intergenerational Associations in Crime for an At-Risk Sample of U.S. Men: Factors that May Mitigate or Exacerbate Transmission

Evidence from several international studies indicates that criminal activity and involvement with the criminal justice system tend to be concentrated in families. Comparatively little work has studied factors that exacerbate or lessen intergenerational associations in crime. Knowledge about factors that are (1) malleable and (2) capable of lessening or exacerbating the intergenerational cycle of criminal behavior is highly relevant for prevention efforts and public policy-makers. This paper studied potential moderators of intergenerational associations in crime (from late childhood, adolescence, early adulthood). We found that late childhood cognitive function and early adult employment history, substance use, and romantic partner’s antisocial behavior moderated intergenerational associations in crime for a sample of at-risk men and their parents. The identified moderators may be used as selection criteria or targeted in prevention and treatment efforts aimed at reducing such associations.