Uniform Crime Report
(UCR) data, particularly the Crime Index (homicide,
robbery, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft) document the robustness of
the age effect on crime and also reveal a long-term trend toward younger age-crime distributions
in more modern times. Today, the peak age (the age group with the highest age-specific arrest
rate) is younger than twenty-five for all crimes reported in the F.B.I.'s UCR program except
gambling, and rates begin to decline in the teenage years for more than half of the UCR crimes.
In fact, even the median age (50 percent of all arrests occurring among younger persons) is
younger than thirty for most crimes. The
National Crime Victimization Survey
report studies of juvenile and adult criminality, and interview data from convicted felons
corroborate the age-crime patterns found in the UCR data (Steffensmeier and Allan).
Explaining the youthful peak in offending.
In a general sense, physical abilities, such as
strength, speed, prowess, stamina, and aggression are useful for successful commission of many
crimes, for protection, for enforcing contracts, and for recruiting and managing reliable
associates (for a review, see Steffensmeier and Allan). Although some crimes are more
physically demanding than others, persistent involvement in crime is likely to entail a lifestyle
that is physically demanding and dangerous. Declining physical strength and energy may make
crime too dangerous or unsuccessful, especially where there are younger or stronger criminal
competitors who will not be intimidated, and this might help to explain the very low involvement
in crime of small children and the elderly.
However, available evidence on biological aging reveals very little correspondence between