Kathleen Elizabeth Mcguire



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This study examines the prospective relationship between delinquency and depression in adolescence, as previous research suggests that they may be related. Our study was interested in testing the direction of the relationship between these factors, and whether they would be related when controlling for potential confounds using statistical covariates in one analysis and the comparison of siblings in a second analysis. Data from 11,495 offspring of a large nationally representative sample of mothers were used. Participants reported on delinquency and depression from the ages of 14 to 17. Covariates included race, gender, mother’s education, family income, birth order, maternal age at childbirth, and maternal history of delinquency, all of which were reported by participants’ mothers. As predicted, depression in ages 14-15 predicted future depression in ages 16-17, and delinquency in ages 14-15 predicted future delinquency in ages 16-17, suggesting continuity in both outcomes during adolescence. In addition, a significant positive association was found between depression at ages 14-15 and delinquency at ages 16-17 and between delinquency at ages 14-15 and depression at ages 16-17. Although boys had higher levels of delinquency than girls and girls had higher levels of depression than boys, no gender differences were found in the strength of the associations between delinquency and depression. Results were consistent between analyses controlling for measured covariates and sibling-comparisons. The findings suggest that depression and delinquency are mutually influential. This would suggest that addressing one outcome could serve to reduce or prevent the other.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Jackson A. Goodnight

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project


Arts and Humanities | Business | Education | Engineering | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences

A Longitudinal, Sibling- Comparison Analysis of Associations Between Depression and Delinquency in Adolescence