Uggen, Christopher and Candace Kruttschnitt. 1998. “Crime in the Breaking: Gender Differences in Desistance.” Law and Society Review 32:401-28.

Reprinted in The Termination of Criminal Careers, edited by Stephen Farrall. 2000. International Library of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing.




Despite increasing interest in understanding patterns of criminal behavior over the life course and, especially, desistance from crime, evidence about the predictors of these experiences is derived only from samples of male offenders. We evaluate whether there are gender differences in the predictors of both self-reported illegal earnings and arrest among samples of recently released male and female offenders. In so doing, we also seek to determine whether the traditional motivational models of desistance or Black’s (1976) theory of law provide the best framework for predicting and explaining the transition out of crime. Event history data from a large-scale social experiment that provided employment to male and female offenders is used to address these issues. The findings are complex but indicate that (1) gender differences in the predictors of desistance are largely dependent upon the domain of behavior under consideration; and, (2) indicators of normative status, as opposed to the perceived risks of crime or age-graded informal controls, are particularly important determinants of women’s risks of rearrest.