Single-Parent Families and Adolescent Crime: Unpacking the Role of Parental Separation, Parental Decease, and Being Born to a Single-Parent Family

Janique Kroese*, Wim Bernasco, Aart C. Liefbroer, Jan Rouwendal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Addressing a gap in the extant literature on single-parent families and juvenile delinquency, we distinguish between different types of single-parent families. Using Dutch population register data on nearly 1.3 million children, we performed logistic regressions to assess the relation between growing up in a single-parent family before age 12 and the likelihood to engage in juvenile delinquency during adolescence. Our findings suggest that the likelihood of juvenile delinquency increases (1) when children are born to a single parent, followed by children with separated parents and children experiencing parental death, compared to children growing up with both biological parents; (2) when the single-parent family started at a younger age; and (3) when children grow up with only a biological mother, for both sons and daughters, compared to only a biological father. The relationship between growing up in single-parent families and juvenile delinquency is much more complex than often assumed. Future research should pay more attention to diversity in the composition of single-parent families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-622
JournalJournal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support was provided by the Amsterdam Law and Behavior Institute (A-LAB), the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), and the Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations (ODISSEI).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Born to a single parent
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Parental decease
  • Separation
  • Single-parent families

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