A Mistaken Account of the Age-Crime Curve: Response to Males and Brown (2013)
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The present article responds to Males and Brown's "Teenagers' High Arrest Rates: Features of Young Age or Youth Poverty?" which claims that the widely observed pattern of crime rates peaking in late adolescence or early adulthood is an artifact of age differences in poverty. We note that the authors' interpretation of their aggregated data is an example of the ecological fallacy. Drawing inferences about individual behavior from macro-level data can lead to erroneous conclusions and does so in the case of Males and Brown's analysis. Moreover, the authors overlook research that has used more appropriate methods to examine age-related change in criminal behavior while accounting for the effects of economic factors and still found a robust age-crime curve. Males and Brown's characterization of the literature and their claims about the relationship between age and crime should be regarded with a great deal of skepticism.
Journal of Adolescent Research
Causes and Prevention of Crime