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Modelling 'crime-proneness'. A comparison of models for repeated count outcomes

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In the criminal career literature, the individual-level age-crime relationship is commonly modelled using generalized linear mixed models, where between-individual heterogeneity is then handled through specifying random effect(s) with some distribution. It is common to specify either a normal or discrete distribution for the random effects. However, there are also other options, and the choice of specification might have substantial effect on the results. In this article, we compare how various methods perform on Norwegian longitudinal data on registered crimes. We also present an approach that might be new to criminologists: the Poisson-gamma regression model. This model is interpretable, parsimonious, and quick to compute. For our data, the distributional assumptions have not dramatic effect on substantive interpretation. In criminology, the mixture distribution is also of theoretical interest by its own right, and we conclude that a gamma distribution is reasonable. We emphasize the importance of comparing multiple methods in any setting where the distributional assumptions are uncertain.

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  • Torbjørn Skardhamar & Tore Schweder & Simen Gan Schweder, 2010. "Modelling 'crime-proneness'. A comparison of models for repeated count outcomes," Discussion Papers 611, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:611
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    File URL: https://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp611.pdf
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    Keywords

    criminal careers; repeated count data; random effects; Poisson-gamma regression; comparing methods;

    JEL classification:

    • C02 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Mathematical Economics
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General

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