John H. Laub

Distinguished University Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
Areas of Expertise:
  • Children & Families
  • Criminal Justice

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About John

Laub’s areas of research include crime and the life course, crime and public policy, and the history of criminology. From July 22, 2010 to January 4, 2013, Dr. Laub served as the Director of the National Institute of Justice in the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. The position of Director is a presidential appointment with confirmation by the United States Senate. In 1996, he was named a fellow of the American Society of Criminology; in 2002-2003 he served as the President of the American Society of Criminology; and in 2005 he received the Edwin H. Sutherland Award from the American Society of Criminology. Dr. Laub, along with his colleague, Robert Sampson, was awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2011 for their research on how and why offenders stop offending.


Crime and Turning Points across the Life Course

  • Robert J. Sampson



"Understanding Inequality and the Justice System Response: Charting a New Way Forward," William T. Grant Foundation, November 30, 2014.
Argues that social inequality both contributes to and is magnified by inequality in the justice system, and calls for new research on the justice system response to inequality and on new policies and programs that may reduce inequality in this domain.
Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points through Life (with Robert J. Sampson) (Harvard University Press, 1993).
Re-analyzes a classic set of data – Sheldon and Eleanor Gluecks' mid-century study of 500 delinquents and 500 nondelinquents from childhood to adulthood – to develop a theory of informal social control that acknowledges the importance of childhood behavior but rejects the implication that adult social factors have little relevance. This theory accounts for both stability and change in crime and deviance throughout the life course.
"After the Epidemic: Recent Trends in Youth Violence in the United States" (with Philip J. Cook). Crime and Justice: A Review of Research 29 (2002): 1-37.
Theorizes that two possible explanations for the rapid and sustained drop in youth violence in the United States are cohort effects, such as abortion legalization, and period effects, such as the changing crack-cocaine trade. Concludes that a longer time frame may be necessary to explain the recent ups and downs in violence rates by youth, and a broader array of problem behaviors and comparison of trends with other countries are recommended for future research.
Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70 (with Robert J. Sampson) (Harvard University Press, 2003).
Analyzes newly collected data on crime and social development up to age 70 for 500 men who were remanded to reform school in the 1940s; by uniting life-history narratives with rigorous data analysis, the authors shed new light on long-term trajectories of crime and current policies of crime control.
"Does Marriage Reduce Crime? A Counterfactual Approach to Within-Individual Causal Effects" (with Robert J. Sampson and Christopher Wimer). Criminology 44, no. 3 (2006): 465-508.
Introduces a counterfactual life-course approach that applies inverse probability of treatment weighting to yearly longitudinal data on marriage, crime, and shared covariates in a sample of 500 high-risk boys followed prospectively from adolescence to age 32; finds that being married is associated with an average reduction of approximately 35 percent in the odds of crime compared to nonmarried states for the same man.
"Neighborhood Change and Crime in the Modern Metropolis" (with David Kirk). Crime and Justice 39, no. 1 (2010): 441-502.
Examines how processes of growth, change, and decline affect neighborhood rates of crime, and finds that longitudinal data on neighborhood social and cultural processes and population migration are needed to advance our understanding of neighborhood change and crime.
"Understanding Desistance from Juvenile Offending: Challenges and Opportunities" (with Sarah L. Boonstoppel), in The Oxford Handbook on Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice, edited by Barry C. Feld and Donna M. Bishop (Oxford University Press, 2012), 373-394.
Reviews the current state of knowledge and perspectives on desistance from juvenile offending, and highlights some of the gaps in both theory and research on desistance during adolescence, offering suggestions for how juvenile justice policy might benefit from desistance research.

In the News

Interview on his research on desistance from crime and juvenile criminal behaviorJohn H. Laub (with Robert J. Sampson), National Institute of Justice, June 20, 2011.
"Translational Criminology," John H. Laub, Translational Criminology, Fall 2012.