Rebellion Beyond the Classroom: A Life-Course Capitalization Theory of the Intergenerational Causes of Delinquency

John Hagan, Patricia Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A life-course capitalization theory of intergenerational causes of delinquency proposes that educational disinvestment is a core adolescent source of disadvantage on to which ensuing adult and parenting problems are grafted. This theory is supported by findings from an intergenerational panel study revealing that a prospective parent's educational disinvestment as an adolescent, in the form of low educational aspirations and educational underachievement, leads to dropping out of school, teen parenthood, unemployment, and marriage and parenting problems, all of which contribute cumulatively to the intergenerational causation of delinquency among children and adolescents. Main and interactive effects of parental unemployment are apparent in this model, providing a clearer picture of how class is linked to the intergenerational causation of delinquency. Parental self-reported delinquency and police contacts in adolescence do not have intergenerational effects. These null effects may reflect the minor form of commonly reported delinquencies. Rytina's life chances' methodology is used to summarize our intergenerational life-course capitalization model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-285
Number of pages27
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • classroom
  • life-course
  • rebellion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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