Delinquency in a Birth Cohort in Wuchang District, Wuhan, China, 1973-2000 (ICPSR 3751)

Published: Mar 30, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Paul C. Friday, University of North Carolina-Charlotte; Xin Ren, California State University-Sacramento; Elmar Weitekamp, University of Tubingen

Version V1

This study was designed by American criminologist Marvin Wolfgang as a replication of his DELINQUENCY IN A BIRTH COHORT studies conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (ICPSR 7729 and ICPSR 9293). The focus of the study is a cohort of all persons born in 1973 in the Wuchang District of the city of Wuhan. This district was selected because it was a populous commercial and residential area. The cohort birth year was chosen to reflect the impact of major economic and social changes in China. Data include interviews with all known criminal offenders as of 1990 and with a matched comparison sample. Additional residential, demographic, and updated criminal history data as of 2000 were collected on all persons born in the 1973 Wuchang District cohort.

Friday, Paul C., Ren, Xin, and Weitekamp, Elmar. Delinquency in a Birth Cohort in Wuchang District, Wuhan, China, 1973-2000. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-03-30.

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (99-IJ-CX-0048)


Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

1973 -- 2000

This study was designed by American criminologist Marvin Wolfgang as a replication of his DELINQUENCY IN A BIRTH COHORT studies conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (ICPSR 7729 and ICPSR 9293). It was initially a collaboration among the Chinese Society of Juvenile Delinquency Research (CSJDR), the International Exchange Association of the Ministry of Education, the Public Security Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, the Public Security Department of Hubei Province, the Public Security Bureau of Wuhan City, and the Sellin Center for Studies in Criminology and Criminal Law, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The study began in 1990 with a small amount of funding from Wolfgang, but it was not completed at that time. After Wolfgang's death in 1998, the CSJDR invited the principal investigators of this study to complete the data collection and analysis of the Wuhan cohort. The goals of this project were to locate and determine what data had been collected and what data needed to be collected to complete the study, to gather the necessary data to draw conclusions regarding the accuracy of the original report of a delinquency rate of less than 2 percent, and to analyze the entire cohort dataset. The project was considered important since it was the first contribution from a non-western society to the international literature on longitudinal and cohort research.

The research site, the city of Wuhan, and the birth cohort were selected by the Chinese team and Wolfgang in 1990. Wuhan is the capital city of Hubei province and one of the most important industrial cities in central China located along the Yangtze River and Hanjaing River. It is an urban, heavily industrial city with three distinct districts geographically divided by the two rivers. The cohort consists of all persons who were born in 1973 in the Wuchang District of the city of Wuhan. Wuchang was the most populous major commercial and residential area of Wuhan. It was an area that seemed most likely to experience the impact of the economic changes in China. The district was also selected as the site because of the personal contacts of the Chinese team with the authorities, which meant that access to all data and information was assured. The cohort birth year is significant because it was the first year after China's major new open policy. As such, the persons in the sample were the first to experience the impact of major economic and social changes. The original cohort, as defined by Wolfgang, consisted of 5,341 individuals. Part 1, the Offender and Matched Comparison Data, consists of 81 persons from Wolfgang's original cohort who were identified as having a criminal record, plus a matched control group of an additional 81 people. The respondents in this dataset were interviewed by Wolfgang. Data from the original instruments were never computer coded or statistically analyzed independently of the Police Statistical Bureau's summaries. Interviewers traveled in Wuhan and seven other provinces to follow-up the original subjects during 1994 and 1995, but the data they collected were never coded and analyzed because the team was dismissed due to lack of funding. Data collection for this study included locating the original hand-written data and interviews from the offender and matched comparison data collected by Wolfgang. These surveys were translated and the data were entered into an electronic database. The detailed information from the residential registration cards providing data on crime and delinquency among the original 5,341 people in the cohort were not collected in the original study and thus no information was available on the entire cohort. The only available data were from the original and follow-up interviews of the 162 people in the offender and matched comparison dataset. Thus, while the original project was defined as a cohort study, it was merely a study of the original 81 offenders and a matched sample. Because there were no data available to relocate the original birth cohort identified by Wolfgang and the Chinese team, the principal investigators for this study had to reselect the cohort from the files using the same criteria used in the Wolfgang study (Part 2). Due to a very restricted residential registration system, population mobility was minimal. Therefore, it is likely that a vast majority of those identified in the second cohort selection were also in the original Wolfgang cohort. Residential file information was gathered for the new cohort and a criminal history check was completed on all persons in the cohort. The criminal history check included not only the officially registered crimes, but also a check of the local police and community committee records of public safety violations.

According to the most recent census at the time of the original data collection in 1990, the Wuchang District had 722,599 individuals and 204,254 households within 12 neighborhoods. The original sample identified 5,341 persons who were born in 1973 and lived in the district from the age of 13 until the data collection period in 1990. Within this group were 2,700 males and 2,641 females. Between 1991 and 1992 the 722,599 individual residential registration files in each of the 12 neighborhood police offices were reviewed to identify those individuals meeting the age and residency requirements who had records of delinquent criminal behavior. Of the 5,341 born in 1973, the researchers identified 81 persons (1.5 percent) with records. Of these 81 persons, 76 were male and 5 were female. From the 5,341 people in the cohort, a control sample of 81 persons was matched by gender, neighborhood background, parental economic status and occupation, and neighborhood school district. Since the administrative records data from the original cohort of 5,341 people were not retained, the principal investigators for this study reselected the cohort from the residential files using the same criteria that Wolfgang used in 1990. This resulted in a cohort of 5,338 people.

All persons born in the Wuchang District of the city of Wuhan, China, in 1973.


Part 1: Data were collected through interviews by Marvin Wolfgang. Part 2: Data were obtained from residential files and criminal history checks.

administrative records data

survey data

Demographic variables in Part 1 include gender, educational background, and occupation. Other variables include educational ambitions, time spent after school on a variety of activities, reading interests, opinions about labor, extracurricular activities, type of ideal job, relationships with teachers, parents' occupations, parents' expectations of children, family discussions, family's material well-being, relationships with friends, dating relationships, descriptions of self, number of delinquent acts, and reasons for delinquency. Demographic variables in Part 2 include gender, birthdate, birthplace, religion, education level, marital status, military status, and occupation. Other variables in this file are dates when subjects moved into and out of the address in their residential file, number of public safety violations, types and dates of public safety violations, number of criminal offenses, types and dates of criminal offenses, and penalties for criminal offenses.

Not applicable.

Several Likert-type scales were used in Part 1.



2006-03-30 File CQ3751.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

2004-01-07 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

2006-03-30 File UG3751.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
NACJD logo

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.