Low Self-Control and Crime in Late Adulthood

Scott E. Wolfe, Michael Reisig, Kristy Reisig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study investigates whether low self-control theory explains self-reported criminal activity in late adulthood. Cross-sectional survey data from telephone interviews conducted with individuals aged 60 years and older in Arizona and Florida (N = 2,000) are used. Regression analyses show that low self-control is related to criminal offending. The relationship between low self-control and offending persists after the introduction of potential mediators (e.g., unstructured socializing, negative emotions, and familial ties) and is even observed across different stages of late adulthood (i.e., young–old, old–old, and oldest–old) characterized by declining physical and cognitive abilities. Robustness checks using alternative measurement and modeling strategies also provide empirical support. Although strong causal inferences are limited by the nature of the data, the findings generally support the notion that low self-control theory partially explains criminal offending in late adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-790
Number of pages24
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • elderly
  • late adulthood
  • life course
  • self-control
  • self-reports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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