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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 73236 Find in a Library
Title: Cohort Studies and the Dynamics of Criminal Phenomena
Journal: Annales Internationales de Criminologie  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:(1979-80)  Pages:11-27
Author(s): J Pinatel; A Favard
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 17
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: France
Annotation: The usefulness of the cohort approach to longitudinal studies of criminal behavior is assessed.
Abstract: Cohort (or generation) studies are designed to reveal the dynamics of situations much as do follow-up studies, but from a broader, more circumspect perspective. Sources for such studies are official archival data; as officially registered individuals are apparently representative, results can be generalized. Cohort studies frequently facilitate determination of dark figures, for crimes unrecorded in official statistics may be revealed in the course of tracing a criminal career. Second-hand information from official documents is no handicap as long as it is analyzed by scientifically acceptable methods. Simultaneous use of several cohorts permits characterization of social change through comparison. Two studies serve as examples of the cohort technique, the study by Wolfgang, et al., on 9945 boys born in Philadelphia in 1945 and the Pinetal-Favard study of four cohorts (born 1940, 1945, 1950, 1955) totaling 2612 boys from the Bayonne area. Using slightly different methods the two studies trace each subject through stages of conduct and social reaction to ascertain the nature of interaction between act and official response. In both studies data are analyzed statically and dynamically. The dynamic, stochastic model involves making a statistical hypothesis on the evolution of data for the time of observation matching characterisic states with various stages. The probability of transition can be measured within and between cohorts. As expected, static results confirm the existence of generations of delinquents and of individual factors such as background which contribute to delinquency. More significantly, dynamic results suggest the absence of any real differences between cohorts; and the relative independence of the behavioral development process from the social reaction process in criminal dynamics. Also noteworthy are the absence of a typical criminal career, of systematic specialization in offense types, and of an escalation in crime severity; and a lack of flexibility and of homogeneity in the social reaction process. The cohort method thus raises the fundamental questions of criminology and permits identification of advantageous points of intervention. Notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Cohort studies; Crime patterns; Criminal histories; Longitudinal studies; Research design; Research methods
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