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Unemployment and Criminal Involvement: An Investigation of Reciprocal Causal Structures

Terence P. Thornberry and R. L. Christenson
American Sociological Review
Vol. 49, No. 3 (Jun., 1984), pp. 398-411
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095283
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Unemployment and Criminal Involvement: An Investigation of Reciprocal Causal Structures
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Abstract

Current etiological theories of criminal behavior are unidirectional in structure; positing that crime is caused by a variety of social factors, these theories tend to ignore the reciprocal causal influence of crime on those factors. The present paper assesses the theoretical and empirical consequences associated with unidirectional explanations of criminal involvement. Using a linear panel model approach, it also examines the advantages of reciprocal causal structures by estimating a nonrecursive model of the relationship between crime and one other variable, unemployment. Results indicate that a reciprocal model is far more accurate than a traditional, unidirectional one; unemployment and crime appear to mutually influence one another over the individual's life span. Implications of these findings for etiological theories of criminal behavior are discussed.

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