Intergenerational Cluster

This cluster has a strong research interest in studying criminal behaviour from an intergenerational perspective. This means that they explore to which extent, how, and why criminal behaviour is being transferred across generations. They focus on patterns of intergenerational continuity of (criminal) behaviour, but are also interested in intergenerational discontinuity – those cases in which behaviour is not being transferred across generations against all odds.

Theoretical perspectives

The cluster’s research programme is strongly inspired by the six – not mutually exclusive – mechanisms as described by Farrington (2002) that provide explanations for the intergenerational transmission of (criminal) behaviour. First, intergenerational continuities in the exposure to risk factors may lead to antisocial behaviour (e.g., poverty, poor parenting). Second, genetic factors may play a role. Third, shared familial antisocial features may explain why criminal behaviour transfers from one generation to another. Fourth, processes of assortative mating may underlie patterns of intergenerational transmission. Fifth, implicit and explicit social learning may play a role. And lastly, official bias from the police and judiciary may be responsible for intergenerational continuity in convictions.

Research topics

Research focuses on complex interacting mechanisms that underlie intergenerational transmission of criminal behaviour. Sometimes criminal behaviour can be seen as the cause of other factors that are being transferred across generations (e.g. the absence of a parent as a result of incarceration, poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantage, poor parenting or poor family relationships), and in other cases criminal behaviour can be seen as the consequence of intergenerational transmission of other factors (e.g. poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantages, harsh parenting, child abuse, or family aggression and violence).

Data sources

The cluster uses a variety of data (i.e. official record data, survey data and interview data) that they analyse using different techniques (i.e., quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method).



Cluster members

  • Veroni Eichelsheim (coordinator)
  • Catrien Bijleveld
  • Arjan Blokland
  • Sjoukje van Deuren
  • Meintje van Dijk
  • Anja Dirkzwager
  • Barbora Holá
  • Marie Lindegaard
  • Elanie Rodermond
  • Frank Weerman
  • Steve van de Weijer


Mikko Aaltonen (University of Helsinki)
Lidewyde Berckmoes (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Brandon Welsh (Northeastern University)

(Inter)national collaborations

Cluster members collaborate with:
VU University Amsterdam (Edward Kleemans)
NIDI (Aat Liefbroer)
Utrecht University (Susan Branje)
University of Maryland (Terence Thornberry)
Northeastern University (Brandon Welsh)
Florida State University (Kevin Beaver)
Berkeley University (Sytske Besemer)
University of Helsinki (Mikko Aaltonen)

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