Rethinking one of criminology’s ‘brute facts’: The age-crime curve and the crime drop in Scotland

Benjamin Matthews, Jon Minton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Examining annual variation in the age–crime curve as a way to better understand the recent crime drop, this paper explores how the age distribution of convicted offending changed for men and women in Scotland between 1989 and 2011. This analysis employs shaded contour plots as a method of visualizing annual change in the age–crime curve. Similar to recent findings from the USA, we observed falling rates of convicted offending for young people, primarily owing to lower rates of convicted offending for young men. In contrast to the US literature we also find increases in the rate of convicted offending for those in their mid-twenties to mid-forties, which are relatively greater for women than men. Analysis of annual change shows different phases in the progression of these trends, with falls in prevalence during the 1990s reflecting lower rates of convictions for acquisitive crime, but falls between 2007 and 2011 being spread across multiple crime types. Explanations of the crime drop in Scotland and elsewhere must be able to account for different patterns of change across age, sex, crime type and time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2017

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