The Life Course Perspective Through the Lens of Race


  • Nicole A Shoenberger Penn State Behrend


Life course theorists argue that key transitions such as marriage and employment heavily influence criminal desistance in adulthood among those who committed delinquent acts during their adolescence. Although much research supports this notion, race has generally been left out of the discourse. Very few researchers have examined whether and how race plays a role within life course theory. This is surprising insofar as race is an important correlate of crime, marriage, employment, and other life course transitions that are associated with criminal desistance. Data from Waves 1, 2 and 4 of Add Health are used to examine differences in the effect of marriage and employment on desistance among 3,479 Black, Hispanic, and White men. Results show mixed support for the life course perspective in that classic life theory applies to Whites, but less so to Blacks and Hispanics.