TESTING THE GENERALIZABILITY OF SAMPSON AND LAUB'S LIFE-COURSE THEORY: EXAMINING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ADULT SOCIAL BONDS AND DRUG USE AMONG AN AFRICAN AMERICAN SAMPLE
Fox, Danielle Polizzi
Laub, John H
MetadataShow full item record
In 1993, Sampson and Laub found that high quality bonds to employment and marriage redirect offending pathways, net of early criminal propensity among a sample of 500 delinquent and 500 non-delinquent white males living in Boston. The current research explores the generalizability of Sampson and Laub's (1993) findings using Ann Brunswick's Harlem Longitudinal Study of Urban Black Youth. Using the first three waves of the dataset, two main research questions are posed: 1) Is there a relationship between adult social bonds and drug use frequency?, and 2) Is there a relationship between the change in adult social bonds and the change in drug use when controlling for unobserved individual heterogeneity? The effects of the social bonding variables in this study do not provide consistent support for Sampson and Laub's theory. The ordinary-least squares regression results indicate that there is a significant relationship between adult social bonds and drug use in early adulthood in the direction predicted by the underlying theory. In later adulthood, the strongest predictor of drug use frequency is the prior wave's measure of drug use frequency. The first-differences analysis reveals no significant relationships between the changes in social bonds during adulthood and changes in drug use frequency during the same period. There are no consistent interaction effects uncovered in the data across the two analytic techniques and the drug-specific results mimic those uncovered using the composite measure of drug use frequency. The mixed results from this research may be due to omitted variable bias, low variation in the social bonding variables of interest, how the social bonding variables are measured, or characteristics of the study and the sample population. While no consistent effect for education, employment, or marriage is found to explain changes in drug use frequency over time, supplemental analyses reveal that church is significantly and inversely related to drug use frequency in adulthood. This finding is consistent with Sampson and Laub's life course theory. Beyond education, employment, and marriage, religion may serve as an institution that is able to strengthen ties and bonds to conventional society and modify drug use trajectories in adulthood.