The Invention of the “New” Senior Citizen Criminal: An Analysis of Crime Trends of Elderly Males and Elderly Females, 1964-1984

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Abstract

Using arrest statistics of the Uniform Crime Reports for the years of 1964 and 1984, this report examines the claim of some commentators of rising levels of and more serious criminality on the part of elderly persons. The first year when arrest figures are broken out by age 65 and over is 1964. There have been sharp rises in elderly arrest rates for three offenses: larceny-theft, driving under influence, and other but traffic. But the rates have fallen sharply for four offenses: public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, gambling, and vagrancy. Both today and 20 years ago, elderly arrests are overwhelmingly for alcohol-related crimes (but the type of “alcohol” crime has changed somewhat). There has been, however, somewhat of a crime-profile shift toward comparatively more arrests for larceny-theft (shoplifting), especially on the part of the elderly female offender. The most important finding is that the proportionate criminal involvement of the elderly is about the same now as two decades ago, in spite of dramatic fluctuations in arrest rates for some offenses. Actually, when considering only the directionality of change, the trend is a small decline in the relative criminality of the elderly across the majority of UCR offenses, including the “serious” crimes. This trend pattern was held for both elderly males and elderly females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-311
Number of pages31
JournalResearch on Aging
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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