An Analysis of the Age Crime Relationship Using FBI Serious Offenses

Open Access
Swigart, Kristen Lee
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Darrell J Steffensmeier, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stacy Silver, Honors Advisor
  • FBI
  • Serious Offenses
  • Age-Crime Relationship
This document presents the analysis of the relationship between age and crime for offenses considered serious by the FBI. A dataset of over 1000 defendants involved in crimes prosecuted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was created for this thesis by analyzing weekly press releases on what the FBI defined as the Top Ten Cases. The dataset covers the 2010 and 2011 time frame. The findings observed from the analysis of this dataset were compared to the UCR arrest data for the offense category of burglary, used to represent ordinary crime. The purpose of this analysis was to shed light on the claim of invariance in the age distribution of crime across offense types as proposed by Hirshi and Gottfredson (1983). Findings show that peak offending for serious offenses occurs much later than ordinary crimes, and variation in parameters (i.e. mean, median, rate of descent) exists between offense types. The “older” crime curves observed for offenders who comprised the FBI Top Ten dataset contrasts sharply with the much “younger” age curves observed for burglary offenders. Overall, the evidence was considerably at odds with the age-crime invariance hypothesis.