Validity of the gender gap theory in a substance-abusing population with previous prison sentences
Two-fifths of the studied substance abusing men had been imprisoned between 1992 and 2005 compared to only 14 percent of the women. Overall, men committed crimes more often than women, but there were no differences in the amount of property crimes in the group of convicted substance abusers.
Kaskela, T. & Pitkänen, T. (2016) Validity of the gender gap theory in a substance-abusing population with previous prison sentences. NSfK's 58.Research Seminar report: New challenges in criminology; can old theories be used to explain or understand new crimes? p. 177 – 191
AIMS: In general, men commit most crimes, and this phenomenon is called the gender gap in criminology. Is the gender gap theory valid for substance abusers who have been imprisoned? In this paper, the theoretical background of the gender gap and other factors connected to criminality and preliminary results of a registry study are presented.
METHODS: The data consisted of 2034 female and 4537 male substance abusers. Gender differences in the groups of substance abusers with and without prior convictions were compared. Additionally, the effect of gender and prior convictions on the amount and type of crimes committed between 2006 and 2010 were studied.
RESULTS: In the group of substance abusers with prior convictions, gender differences were quite narrow compared to substance abusers without prior convictions. Generally, convicted substance abusers committed more crimes than other substance abusers, and men committed more crimes than women. However, there was no gender difference in the proportion of substance abusers with prior convictions who committed property crimes in the observation period.
CONCLUSIONS: A gender gap in the criminality of substance abusers was found regardless of earlier prison background. However, preliminary results suggest that substance abusing women with prior convictions might have a risk of committing property crimes similar to men. Further analyses and control of confounding factors are needed before conclusions can be made. A more advanced analysis considering the confounding factors and deaths will be performed using Cox regression analyses in the near future.