JURIDICA INTERNATIONAL XIX/2012
Jüri Saar Anna Markina
Professor of Criminology M.A. (Social Sciences)
University of Tartu Lecturer of Sociology of Law
University of Tartu
Mortality Rate and Causes
of Death of Delinquent
Data from the Estonian Longitudinal Study
of Criminal Careers*1
This paper focuses on the risk of early death and dying of natural and unnatural (external) causes among
former juvenile delinquents in Estonia. We examine ﬁ rst the question of to what extent former juvenile
delinquents have a greater risk of dying earlier and dying of different causes than the general population
in Estonia do. Secondly, the paper looks at the differences in mortality rates and causes of death between
persistent and desisting offenders. Thirdly, we compare mortality rates for cohort members and causes of
death among Estonian and non-Estonian delinquents.
2. Delinquency and mortality
It is a well-established empirical fact that delinquent individuals have higher death rates than do non-
delinquent individuals. In a longitudinal study of juvenile delinquency and adult crime up to age 32, the
Gluecks found that the death rate for delinquents was twice that of matched non-delinquent individuals.*2
Laub and Vaillant used the Gluecks’ original data and followed almost 500 delinquent and 500 matched
non-delinquent comparison males until age 65. According to their ﬁ ndings, delinquent subjects were more
than twice as likely to die (51%) as the 196 boys with no unofﬁ cial delinquency (23%) from natural or
unnatural causes.*3 In a 30-year follow-up, Robins and O’Neal found a mortality rate for problem children
with conduct disorder by age 40 that was twice as high as that of control-group members.*4 Other longitudi-
nal and follow-up studies that have followed delinquent boys into adulthood have observed similar trends.
1 The research was supported by Estonian Science Foundation Grant 8074.
2 S. Glueck, E. Glueck. Delinquents and Nondelinquents in Perspective. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1968.
3 J.H. Laub, E. Vaillant. Delinquency and mortality: A 50-year follow-up study of 1,000 delinquent and nondelinquent boys. –
American Journal of Psychiatry 2000 (157), pp. 96–102.
4 L.N. Robins, P. O’Neal. Mortality, mobility, and crime: Problem children thirty years later. – American Sociological Review
1958 (23), pp. 162–171.