MPIDR Working Paper

Sociohistorical context and post-prison life course

Laine, R., Aaltonen, M., Myrskylä, M., Martikainen, P.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-037, 39 pages.
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (August 2023)
Open Access


Life-course criminology has recently begun to focus on the sociohistorical context, with the use of multi-cohort studies. However, those studies have mostly concentrated on offending or aggregate crime rates. Desistance research, in turn, has largely overlooked the impact of the broader sociohistorical context. Based on recent work on the sociohistorical context and offending, we propose that context can also shape the desistance process.

We examined the employment, housing, and marriages of Finnish first-time prisoners released between 1995 and 2014 (N = 23 358) until 2019. We quantified the link between selected macro-level indicators and these three outcomes using applied age-period-cohort-models.

The results showed that the outcomes evolved in separate ways post-release. Employment and marriage became more common, but only employment showed distinct periodical changes. The probability of living in housing remained relatively stable. A higher level of national unemployment was associated with all outcomes. The association between background factors and the outcomes changed depending on release year.

Post-prison societal integration should not be measured by recidivism alone. Desistance studies should address the societal context when comparing different times or countries. Early studies may require replication if the associations between demographic factors and desistance outcomes are subject to change.

Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.