Growing up in single-parent families and the criminal involvement of adolescents: a systematic review

Janique Kroese, W. Bernasco, A.C. Liefbroer, J. Rouwendal

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have investigated the relation between growing up in single-parent families and crime. However, an up-to-date overview of the literature on this topic is lacking. To fill this gap, this article reviews the empirical literature regarding the effects of being raised in a single-parent family on criminal behavior of adolescent offspring, and additionally focusses on whether the effects depend on how single-parent families were constituted (by parental divorce or separation, by parental decease, or by being born to a single parent). A systematic search in five electronic databases (Web of Science, PsycINFO, Scopus, SocINDEX, and EconLit) is conducted to identify empirical studies on this topic, resulting in 48 studies that conform to a range of substantive and methodological selection criteria. The results suggest that growing up in single-parent families is associated with an elevated risk of involvement in crime by adolescents and that more research is needed to determine the effects of the different constituting events of single-parent families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-75
JournalPsychology, Crime & Law
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2021


  • single-parent families
  • parental divorce
  • criminal behavior
  • adolescence
  • systematic review


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