Structural predictors of choice: Testing a multilevel rational choice theory of crime

Kyle J. Thomas, Eric P. Baumer, Thomas A. Loughran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Extant research has provided support for the micro-level predictions of rational choice models of crime. Yet, a central feature of the rational choice perspective in the broader social sciences—that it is multilevel in focus, situating individuals within broader community social structures—has been neglected within criminology. In this article, we discuss and test a model that links community structural characteristics to several individual expectations and preferences relevant to crime. Using data from the Pathways to Desistance study, we find that objective levels of neighborhood concentrated disadvantage influence individuals’ perceptions of, and preferences for, the risks, costs, and rewards associated with offending indirectly by affecting perceived disorder and perceived opportunities for legitimate avenues of success within one's neighborhood. The implications of a multilevel rational choice model of offending are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-636
Number of pages31
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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