DP5331 Crime and Conformism

Author(s): Eleonora Patacchini, Yves Zenou
Publication Date: October 2005
Keyword(s): conformism, juvenile crime, norms, parents' education
JEL(s): A14, I21, K42
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5331

We propose a simple conformism model that explains how parental education and peer pressure impact on criminal activities. We then test the model using the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (AddHealth), which contains unique information on friendship relationships among delinquent teenagers. We find that conformity is very strong within groups of delinquents and that the higher the taste for conformity of an individual, the lower the deviation from the norm's group. These results suggest that, for teenagers, the decision to commit crimes is not a simple choice based primarily on individual considerations but is strongly affected by their environment and peers.