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J Marriage Fam. 2011 Oct 1;73(5):1101-1116.

Changes in At-Risk American Men's Crime and Substance Use Trajectories Following Fatherhood.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331; Oregon Social Learning Center, 10 Shelton McMurphey Blvd., Eugene, OR 97401.


Fatherhood can be a turning point in development and in men's crime and substance use trajectories. At-risk boys (N = 206) were assessed annually from ages 12 to 31 years. Crime, arrest, and tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use trajectories were examined. Marriage was associated with lower levels of crime and less frequent substance use. Following the birth of a first biological child, men's crime trajectories showed slope decreases, and tobacco and alcohol use trajectories showed level decreases. The older men were when they became fathers, the greater the level decreases were in crime and alcohol use and the less the slope decreases were in tobacco and marijuana use. Patterns are consistent with theories of social control and social timetables.

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