Course Home


Laub, J., & Sampson, R. J. (2003). Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives : Delinquent Boys to Age 70. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Key terms from L&S




Career length

Desistance (vs. de escalation) vs. termination

Person vs. variable centered


Persistent offender

Asymmetrical causation


Population heterogeneity (kinds of people) vs. state dependence (kinds of contexts)


Developmental accounts

LCPOs vs. ALOs

Aleatory element

Turning point

Knifing off

Bridging environment



If you have concerns about being able to separate the forest from the trees, questions and points here that are about the forest are in bold.

  1. What "popular notions" do they reject and why? c1

  2. What challenges have people made to their earlier work? c1

  3. What is the theoretical focus? c1

  4. What are their data sources?

  5. What are the core elements of each of the four approaches to persistent offending and desistance (maturation, development, rational choice, social learning)? c2

  6. How do they distinguish desistance from termination, and what is the definition of each? c2

  7. What are the core features of the life course view? c2

  8. What are turning points and how have they been criticized? c3

  9. How - by what processes - do marriage, stable work, cj involvement and military service affect crime involvement? c3

  10. What is the current criminal type controversy about? c5

  11. What does the overall age pattern show? c5

  12. What are the effects of being high risk on the age pattern? c5

  13. Do they find LCPOs (life course persistent offenders)? What does this say about Moffitt's argument? c5

  14. What are the implications of the last three questions for G&H's approach to criminality? c5

  15. Do the results of the semi-parametric models suggest a different conclusion? c5

  16. Can these different offending trajectories be predicted by childhood factors? c5

  17. Paying incredibly close attention to their summary starting on p. 110, and making up your own mind: where do YOU come down on the questions of a) the invariance of the age-crime curve; b) whether there are different types of offenders; and c) whether pre-adult factors are linked to adult differences. c5

  18. Why do some offenders stop? Is their explanation for this parsimonious? c6

  19. Why do some offenders persist? Is THIS explanation parsimonious? c7

  20. What do the persister data say about Moffitt's LCPO idea? c7

  21. Given your answers to 18 and 19, do L&S have a THEORY about these two outcomes? Explain your answer. Be clear what you mean by theory. c7

  22. What do we learn from the existence of the zigzag careers about the utility or solidity of offender typologies or taxonomies? c8

  23. How does the within individual analysis (i.e., individuals changing over time)  influence the conclusions L&S draw about the impacts of marriage on offending? c9

  24. What is your personal view about the utility of typologies? c10

  25. What is your personal view about the utility of risk factors? c10