Where have all the young offenders gone? Insights from two NSW Birth Cohorts

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The Australian Crime Decline has now been well documented. In particular, comprehensive analysis in New South Wales (NSW) has shown significant reductions in most major crime categories. Coinciding with a significant and abrupt shortage of heroin, early analysis of the crime decline pointed to a rapidly changing drug market and the subsequent reduction in drug-related offending as a principal explanation, yet, the crime decline in that state has lasted longer than earlier anticipated and so new explanations must be found for its persistence. This paper describes in detail the results of a comparative analysis of the criminal offending trajectories of two NSW birth cohorts. These specific cohorts have been selected to represent two developmentally and contextually distinct periods in NSW. Born in 1984, the first cohort transitioned through adolescence at a time of sustained year-on-year growth in the rates of drug, property and violent crime. The second cohort transitioned through adolescence at a time when crime rates were in decline and it is the difference in their offending patterns (onset, escalation and offence-type mix) which tell an important story about both the causes and long term consequences of the crime decline in Australia.

Further information about Dr Jason Payne: https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/payne-jl