Development and Psychopathology

Life course turning points: The effect of grade retention on physical aggression

a1 Carnegie Mellon University
a2 University of Montreal

Our objective is to advance the life course analytical framework by demonstrating a model for testing two of its tenets. The first is whether the individual's developmental history conditions the response to a turning point event. The second is whether the influence of a major life event upon an individual's developmental course depends upon the timing of the event. We test both propositions in an analysis of the effect of grade retention on a child's trajectory of physical aggression. Our analysis is based on data from a longitudinal study of 1,037 boys from schools in the lowest socioeconomic areas in Montreal, Canada. We find clear evidence that a developmental history of physical aggression conditions the child's response to grade retention. The evidence on whether the timing of retention affects this response is less clear.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Daniel Nagin, 2105 Hamburg Hall, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, 15213 PA; E-mail: