Assessing Sampson and Laub’s Life-Course Theory of Crime

John H. Laub, Robert J. Sampson, Gary A. Sweeten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

23 Scopus citations


What explains the onset of criminal behavior? Why do some offenders continue offending across different phases of the life course? These are fascinating and important questions in the study of criminal behavior. Sampson and Laub’s life-course theory of crime was designed to speak to these issues as well as other important questions in the field of criminology. According to Sampson and Laub, age-graded informal social control explains the onset of offending, continuity in offending, and changes in offending throughout the life course. The chapter assesses the empirical support for the central propositions in Sampson and Laub’s life-course theory of crime. It outlines both the 1993 and 2003 versions of the age-graded theory of informal social control. The age-graded theory argues that weak social bonds explain continuity in antisocial behavior across adolescence and adulthood. The age-graded theory also suggests that social structural factors, such as family disruption, unemployment, and socioeconomic status, indirectly affect delinquency through social bonds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTaking Stock
Subtitle of host publicationThe Status of Criminological Theory: Advances in Criminological Theory: Volume 15
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781351487030
ISBN (Print)9781315130620
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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