Age and Crime in South Korea: Cross-National Challenge to Invariance Thesis

Darrell Steffensmeier, Yunmei Lu, Chongmin Na

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


By using US and Western databases, Hirschi and Gottfredson (HG) projected that the age distribution of crime always and everywhere has (a) a spiked adolescent peak and (b) a continuous decline thereafter into old age. In the study described here, we investigated these two core postulates of the age-crime invariance thesis by comparing age-crime distributions in South Korea (SK) with the inverted J-shaped norm proposed by HG. Our analysis considered age-crime schedules for a number of offense types (e.g. homicide) and indexes (e.g. total, violent, and property) and across a variety of measures or statistical tests. The findings revealed considerable divergence in South Korea’s age-crime patterns compared with the HG invariance norm. Instead, SK age-crime patterns parallel those for Taiwan (also a collectivist Asian country) as reported recently by Steffensmeier and colleagues (2017). Implications for research and theory on the age-crime relation more broadly are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-435
Number of pages26
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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