Since its introduction in the latter half of the 1980s, the meticulous study of distinct criminal career dimensions, like onset, frequency, and crime mix, has yielded a wealth of information on the way crime develops over the life-span. Policymakers in turn have used this information in their efforts to tailor criminal justice interventions to be both effective and efficient. Life-course criminology studies the ways in which the criminal career is embedded in the totality of the individual life-course and seeks to clarify the causal mechanisms governing this process.

The Routledge International Handbook of Life-Course Criminology provides an authoritative collection of international theoretical and empirical research into the way that criminal behavior develops over the life-span, which causal mechanisms are involved in shaping this development, and to what degree criminal justice interventions are successful in redirecting offenders’ criminal trajectories. Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative research this handbook covers theory, describes and compares criminal career patterns across different countries, tests current explanations of criminal development, and using cutting-edge methods, assesses the intended and unintended effects of formal interventions.

This book is the first of its kind to offer a comprehensive overview of state-of-the-art developments in criminal career and life-course research, providing unique perspectives and exclusive local knowledge from over 50 international scholars. This book is an ideal companion for teachers and researchers engaged in the field of developmental and life-course criminology.

part I|78 pages


chapter 3|14 pages

Human agency

The missing element in theories of desistance

chapter 4|7 pages

A relational perspective on agency and the desistance process

A reaction to Paternoster and Bachman

chapter 5|24 pages

Situational Action Theory and PADS+

Theoretical and methodological advances in the study of life course criminology

chapter 6|13 pages

Religion, spirituality, and desistance from crime

Toward a theory of existential identity transformation

part II|69 pages

Criminal careers

chapter 7|23 pages

Changing crime mix patterns of offending over the life course

A comparative study in England & Wales and the Netherlands

chapter 8|28 pages

Crime specialization as a dynamic process?

Criminal careers, crime mix, and crime specialization in chronic, serious, and violent offenders

chapter 9|16 pages

Comparing criminal careers across three national cohorts

Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands

part IV|53 pages

Offending over the life-course

chapter 14|19 pages

Changes in offending around official labor market entry

Vulnerable youths in transition to adulthood

chapter 15|13 pages

To see the fear in their eyes

Poses of violence in biography

chapter 16|19 pages

Intergenerational transmission of crime

An international, empirical assessment

part VI|99 pages

Official interventions

chapter 22|20 pages

The impact of imprisonment on IPV offenders’ risks of recidivism

An application of two natural experiments in the city of Barcelona

chapter 23|19 pages

‘Virtual’ versus ‘real’ prison: which is best?

Comparing the re-incarceration rates after electronic monitoring and imprisonment in Belgium

chapter 25|24 pages

Intergenerational continuity in incarceration

Evidence from a Dutch multi-generation cohort