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The members of this thematic group study criminal development as an integral part of the life-course. Studies focus on micro-level life events (such as marriage and parenthood), meso-factors (such as neighbourhood characteristics and problematic youth group involvement), as well as macro-circumstances (such as unemployment levels and economic crises) to explain how criminal careers evolve over the life-course.

Life events such as labour market entry and romantic relationships have been found to impact careers, but the reverse association is also present: those with extensive careers may have more problems finding a job or a romantic partner, or doing so at normative ages. Individual characteristics, like personality and biological markers, interact with these life course variables leading to distinct developmental outcomes. Finally, research in this thematic group focuses on the impact of criminal justice interventions, viewing these interventions as a special kind of life event.

Theoretical perspectives

The research programme is strongly rooted in life-course theories such as Sampson and Laub’s Age Graded Theory, Moffitt’s Dual Taxonomy and Thornberry’s Interactional Theory. Research focuses on general population samples as well as high-risk samples such as young adults with previous police contacts or youths raised in care. Studies have also followed up special samples such as sex offenders, female (Dutch Caribbean) prisoners and cybercriminals.

Data sources

The research is informed by multiple data sources, such as surveys, register data, and court and treatment files. Several studies also use qualitative methods like in-depth interviewing. Innovative data collection techniques such as time use surveys on smartphones are currently explored.


The members of this thematic group take active part in the Division for Developmental and Life-course Criminology of the American Society of Criminology, the European Developmental and Life-course Criminology working group of the European Society of Criminology, Eurogang, and the Spinhuis Center for Research on Incarcerated Females.

Coordinator: Arjan Blokland

Experts on this theme

Prof. Arjan Blokland

Senior Researcher

Sjoukje van Deuren MSc

PhD Candidate

Dr Anja Dirkzwager

Senior Researcher

Dr Victor van der Geest


Dr Elanie Rodermond


Prof. Frank Weerman

Senior Researcher

Prof. Peter van der Laan

Director a.i.

Dr Steve van de Weijer


Prof. Catrien Bijleveld LL.M.

Senior Researcher

Ilka van de Werve MSc

PhD Candidate

Dr Chantal van den Berg


Bodine Gonggrijp MSc

PhD Candidate

Dr Evelien Hoeben


Esther Zuiderveld MSc

Junior Researcher


(Inter)national collaborations

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