This study first examines the effects of parental divorce and paternal crime on offspring offending. Then, it tests whether parental divorce moderates the intergenerational transmission of crime. Diversity within the offending population is taken into account by examining whether effects are different for fathers who commit crimes at different points of the life-course and by distinguishing between violent and non-violent offending. A sample of 2374 individuals from three consecutive generations from 198 Dutch families was used. The results show that parental divorce increases offspring non-violent offending, but does not increase offspring violence after controlling for parental violence. Moreover, the intergenerational transmission of violence is moderated by parental divorce: empirical evidence for intergenerational transmission of violence is only found for children who did not experience parental divorce during their youth. This moderating effect of parental divorce is even stronger if the father committed violent crimes during the child’s youth. The moderating influence of parental divorce on the intergenerational transmission of non-violent crime is less clear, and the effects are overall stronger for violent crime than for non-violent crime. These results suggest that social learning mechanisms play an important role in the intergenerational transmission of violent crime, although genetic influences cannot be ruled out.
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