Life-course Cluster

The members of this cluster study criminal development as an integral part of the life-course. Studies focus on micro-level life events (such as marriage and parenthood), meso-factors (such as neighbourhood characteristics and problematic youth group involvement), as well as macro-circumstances (such as unemployment levels and economic crises) to explain how criminal careers evolve over the life-course. Life events such as labour market entry and romantic relationships have been found to impact careers, but the reverse association is also present: those with extensive careers may have more problems finding a job or a romantic partner, or doing so at normative ages. Individual characteristics, like personality and biological markers, interact with these life course variables leading to distinct developmental outcomes. Finally, research in this cluster focuses on the impact of criminal justice interventions, viewing these interventions as a special kind of life event.

Theoretical perspectives

The cluster’s research programme is strongly rooted in life-course theories such as Sampson and Laub’s Age Graded Theory, Moffitt’s Dual Taxonomy and Thornberry’s Interactional Theory. Research focuses on general population samples as well as high-risk samples such as young adults with previous police contacts or youths raised in care. Studies have also followed up special samples such as sex offenders, female (Dutch Caribbean) prisoners and cybercriminals.

Data sources

The research is informed by multiple data sources, such as surveys, register data, and court and treatment files. Several studies also use qualitative methods like in-depth interviewing. Innovative data collection techniques such as time use surveys on smartphones are currently explored.


The cluster members take active part in the Division for Developmental and Life-course Criminology of the American Society of Criminology, the European Developmental and Life-course Criminology working group of the European Society of Criminology, Eurogang, and the Spinhuis Center for Research on Incarcerated Females.



Cluster members

  • Arjan Blokland (coordinator)
  • Catrien Bijleveld
  • Sjoukje van Deuren
  • Anja Dirkzwager
  • Victor van der Geest
  • Peter van der Laan
  • Elanie Rodermond
  • Frank Weerman
  • Steve van de Weijer


Mikko Aaltonen (University of Helsinki)
Janine Janssen (Avans Hogeschool)
Vere van Koppen (VU University Amsterdam)
Melvin Soudijn (National Police)
Janna Verbruggen (Cardiff University)
Ilka van de Werve (VU University Amsterdam)
Chantal van den Berg (VU University Amsterdam)

(Inter)national collaborations

Cluster members collaborate with:
VU University Amsterdam (Anne Marie Slotboom and Vere van Koppen)
Leiden University (Paul Nieuwbeerta)
Toronto University (Candace Kruttschnitt)
Carnegie Mellon (Daniel Nagin)
Laval University (Patrick Lussier)
Cardiff University (Janna Verbruggen)
University of London (Ingrid Schoon)
University of Helsinki (Mikko Aaltonen)

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