Desistance in the Transition to Adulthood: The Roles of Marriage, Military, and Gender
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Research is needed on desistance from crime using samples of males and females. Through the use of three waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) data which represents a diverse and contemporary sample, this thesis investigates the effects of social bonds including marriage and military enlistment on desistance from delinquency. Analyses use survey adjusted Ordinary Least Squares Regression and Logistic Regression change score models. Analyses are first conducted on the combined sample, and then similarities and differences in social bonds on changes in delinquency are examined across gender sub-samples. Drawing on Sampson and Laub‘s Age-Graded Theory of Informal Social Control, I examine whether the social bonds found in marriage and military involvement decrease delinquency over time. My results revealed that in the whole sample, marriage lead to desistance but military enlistment did not. When analyzed by gender, marriage was significantly related to desistance in males, not females, and that difference was found to be significant. In addition, military enlistment was found to lead to females desisting from crime, but it was not associated with male desistance. This thesis extended Sampson and Laub‘s theory in that it found marriage decreases delinquency in males from a contemporary sample. However, Sampson and Laub theorized military decreasing delinquency as well. My thesis did not support that. In future research, the effects of military enlistment on desistance should be studied in a larger sample. In addition, the mechanisms in a marital relationship that lead to desistance should be investigated.
Holley, Jessica (2011). Desistance in the Transition to Adulthood: The Roles of Marriage, Military, and Gender. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from