Does missing the maturity gap predict drug abstention among adolescents?: An analysis of Moffitt's developmental taxonomy




Mendez, Valarie

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Moffitt's developmental taxonomy (1993) has generated considerable empirical research over the past two decades, most of which has centered on life-course persistent and adolescence-limited offenders. In an effort to expand the literature, this study examined the taxonomy's maturity gap hypothesis which links this developmental event to deviance and delinquency. Using this theoretical framework, I tested Moffitt's hypothesis to determine if those who "miss" the maturity gap are more likely to abstain from the drug use. Using data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study for Adolescent Health (Add Health), and employing the Barnes and Beaver (2010) statistical model, this study assessed the likelihood of drug abstention among male and female adolescents. Utilizing logistic regression, this analysis examined the impact of the maturity gap on drug abstention while controlling for other known correlates of drug use (e.g., age, self-control). The findings partially supported the taxonomy, indicating that the maturity gap was significantly and negatively related to minor drug use abstention for males, but not for females. Implications for Moffitt's theory and suggestions for future research are discussed.


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Abstainers, Adolescence-Limited Offender, Adolescents, Drug Abstention, Maturity Gap Thesis, Moffitt's Developmental Taxonomy



Criminal Justice