The Rochester Youth Development Study is a multigenerational longitudinal study with an initial focus on serious, chronic, and violent delinquency. Under the direction of Terence Thornberry (principal investigator) and Pamela Porter (research coordinator) of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the study began in 1988 with a sample of 1000 adolescents (and their parents) and has followed them until they were 31 years of age. Among the topics investigated in the course of the Rochester study are: the causal influences of family, school, and peer influences on the initiation and maintenance of delinquent careers; the role of street gangs and gang membership in facilitating delinquency and violence; the life-course consequences of gang membership; the impact of childhood and adolescent maltreatment on delinquency, drug use, and related problem behaviors; patterns of gun ownership and gun use and their impact on crime;  and the interplay of transitions from adolescence to adulthood and both persistence in and desistance from offending.


In 1999 a companion intergenerational study -- the Rochester Intergenerational Study -- was begun. The intergenerational study focuses on the oldest biological children in the third generation of these families and in 2013 began the 15th year of annual assessments of the child's growth and development. The study has two primary aims. The first is to investigate intergenerational continuity in drug use, delinquency, and related problem behaviors and to identify key mediating processes that help account for the observed level of continuity. The second is to investigate intergenerational discontinuity, or intergenerational resilience, and identify the moderating influences that help children born to parents with a history of antisocial behavior avoid involvement in the drug use, delinquency and related problem behaviors.

Principal Investigator
Graduate Researchers
Project Sponsor
National Institute on Drug Abuse, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention