Gender Variation in the Age-Crime Relation in Cross-National Context: Taiwan-US Comparison

Darrell Steffensmeier, Yunmei Lu, Jennifer Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Hirschi and Gottfredson’s premise of a ubiquitous adolescent-driven age-crime relation is widely endorsed, yet empirical tests have relied almost solely on non-disaggregated western data reflecting male patterns. Joint effects of gender and age have been strongly assumed but not broadly tested. To examine the invariance thesis, we probed for conditioning effects of gender and social context by comparing gender-age-crime patterns in an East Asian society, Taiwan, with those in the USA. Methods: Unique disaggregated arrest data for Taiwan and the USA were leveraged to determine whether there were within- as well as between-country differences in the age-gender-crime relation and whether the age-gender distributions were invariant across social groups and cultures. Results: Major findings were as follows: (1) striking within-country similarity in age distributions of male and female offenders; and (2) considerable between-country dissimilarity in age-crime schedules of males and females: Taiwan male and female age-crime curves were less peaked and older than the US male and female age-crime curves, diverging from the widely-held premise of a ubiquitous adolescent-spiked age-crime curve. Conclusion: Strong cross-national variation in the age-crime relation, paired with remarkable gender similarity within nations, support life course approaches attentive to social context and suggest considerable mutability of any biological processes shaping the age-crime, the gender-crime, and the gender-age-crime relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-648
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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