Aims: To examine linkages between patterns of alcohol abuse and crime in a New Zealand birth cohort studied to the age of 21 taking into account confounding factors through the use of fixed-effects regression methods.
Measurements: Over the period from age 15-21 years assessments were made of: (a) involvement in violent and property crime; and (b) extent (if any) of alcohol abuse/dependence symptoms. In addition, information was gathered on a number of social and contextual factors that were likely to be related to alcohol abuse or crime.
Findings: Increasing alcohol abuse was associated with clear and significant (p < 0.0001) increases in rates of both violent and property crime. Control for observed and non-observed confounding through the use of fixed-effects regression models indicated that much of this association was attributable to the effects of confounding factors that were associated with both alcohol abuse and crime. None the less, even after such control alcohol abuse remained significantly related to both violent and property offending.
Conclusions: The findings suggest the presence of a possible causal association between alcohol abuse and juvenile offending that is evident after control for both observed and non observed sources of confounding.