Life Domains and Crime: A Test of Agnew's General Theory of Crime and Delinquency

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Purpose: This study presents a preliminary test of Agnew's general theory of crime and delinquency. This study examines whether each of the five life domain variables at the core of Agnew's theory is related to recidivism, whether there is a non-linear relationship between the life domains and recidivism, and whether the five life domains interact in causing recidivism.

Methods: Data were derived from the baseline survey of the Maryland Boot Camp Experiment and through a criminal records check conducted by the Maryland Department of Public Safety.

Results: Overall, the results lend weak support for Agnew's general theory. In particular, only two of the five life domains, having a bad job and being a high school dropout, are significantly correlated with recidivism. Further, with the exception of the peers domain, there is neither a linear nor a non-linear relationship between the life domains and recidivism. The results also reveal that none of the two-way bivariate interactions are significant in a multivariate linear probability model.

Conclusions: Although our findings are not supportive of Agnew's (2005) general theory of crime, the theory contains many other implications that we simply did not have the data to address.

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Journal of Criminal Justice, v. 39, issue 4, p. 302-311