Criminal Trajectories of White-collar Offenders

This article analyzes the criminal development and sociodemographic and criminal profile of a sample of prosecuted white-collar offenders. It identifies trajectory groups and describes their profiles based on crime, sociodemographic, and selection offence characteristics.


The criminal development of 644 prosecuted white-collar offenders in the Netherlands was examined using all registered offences from age 12 onward. In addition, sociodemographic background information was gathered from the Netherlands Internal Revenue Service and Municipal Personal Records Office. Trajectory analysis was conducted to approximate the underlying continuous distribution in criminal development by a discrete number of groups.


The criminal career characteristics and sociodemographic profile show a heterogeneous sample of white-collar offenders. Trajectory analysis distinguished four trajectory groups. Two low-frequency offender groups, totaling 78 percent, are characterized by their adult onset. The two high-frequency offender groups, totaling 22 percent, are characterized by their adolescent onset. Distinct and internally consistent offender profiles emerged for the four trajectory groups on the basis of crime, socio- demographic, and selection offence characteristics.


The diversity in offence patterns and offender profiles points to different (developmental) causes for white-collar crime and underlines the importance of further longitudinal research on white-collar offending from an integrated white-collar and life-course perspective.

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