Criminological question annotation: “does marriage reduce crime” Essay

Criminological Question Annotation:

“Does Marriage Reduce Crime”

Title: Does marriage reduce crime? A counterfactual approach to within-individual causal effects

Journal: Criminology Issue 44 Dated: 2006 Pages:465-508.

Author(s): Robert J. Sampson, John H. Laub & Christopher Wimer


Sampson, Laub, and Wimer expand upon already developed research and data compilation of 500 boys who were deemed delinquents and placed in reformatories in the state of Massachusetts.  A plethora of information had already been gathered on these subjects, in terms of self-report, psychiatric evaluations, and other measurement tools by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck.  These subjects had been longitudinally followed by the Gluecks from ages 17-32 in a study that began in the 1950’s.  Using this data already at hand and searching through databases containing recorded statistics, such as FBI records, death certificates, voting records, etc… the surviving, locatable, and cooperative remainder of the sample were re-assessed to determine the effect of marriage in crime reduction.  This yielded  a new assessment of this group from both ages 17-32 from the Gluecks work and a much more intensive study using a life-history calendar to enter data that allowed for time varying covariates from ages 17-70.  This data was processed using a method called inverse probability of treatment weighting or IPTW.

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Of the 500, 52 of the original cohorts were reassessed as a valuable subset of the group.  Following protocol and in-depth location tools, the researchers determined that there were an eligible pool of 230 men, and out of those 181 were located to yield a location rate of 79%.  However, the pool was whittled down to 141 and then to 52 due to constraints on funds.  This still yielded much valuable information as to the trajectory of life changing events in these men, most importantly, marriage, divorce, and incarceration.  Birth of children were also closely coded in the life-history calendar, as well as unemployment and military background.  Much of this information was used to determine marriage attractiveness based on these variables and the assessments previous done on the subject’s personality.  Secondary data analysis was done on already existing literature on marriage factors to determine which of these men were suited to marriage, as the research would not be reliable if non-robust marriages were considered with the same weight as marriages that may not possess stability.  Finally, other issues were introduced to determine whether some marriages should even be considered marriages, if the other spouse was predisposed to crime and, therefore, detrimental to a robust marriage and lacking in the theory that social control was the helpful ingredient in these marriages. Cohabitation was looked upon, as well, to give perspective to the research question.

The steps taken to ensure the findings are extensive, there are 5 tables included and many citations that supplement this study with previous studies are found throughout the report.  Studies that are contrasted to this study are cited, as well, to show the effectiveness of the IPTW analysis and the variables that have been overlooked previously in research.  The bibliography takes up slightly over 8 pages of the 45 page study and there is much to be taken from this paper and much to be gathered for further research, using both this instrument and the research and reporting given in the bibliography.



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