Purpose: The present study examines whether experiences of household food insecurity during childhood are predictive of low self-control and early involvement in delinquency. Methods: In order to examine these associations, we employ data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) – a national study that follows a large group of children born in the U.S. between 1998 and 2000. Results: Children raised in food insecure households exhibit significantly lower levels of self-control during early childhood and higher levels of delinquency during late childhood than children raised in food secure households, net of covariates. Both transient and persistent food insecurity are significantly and positively associated with low self-control and early delinquency, although persistent food insecurity is associated with larger increases in the risk of low self-control and early delinquency. Ancillary analyses reveal that low self-control partly explains the association between food insecurity and early delinquency. Conclusions: The general theory of crime may need to be expanded to account for the role of early life stressors linked to a tenuous supply of healthy household foods in the development of self-control. Future research should seek to further elucidate the process by which household food insecurity influences childhood self-control and early delinquency.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science