Peak offending age for men in Scotland up from 18 to 23
The peak age of offending for men in Scotland has risen from 18 to 23 in the space of a generation, according to the latest conviction figures.
Among women, the peak age has gone from 18 to 30 since 1989.
The rate of conviction for men aged 16 to 20 dropped by almost a third from 9,500 per 100,000 to 3,500 per 100,000.
The findings, based on figures from the Scottish Offenders Index, suggest fewer young people are choosing a life of crime.
The rate of conviction for men aged 21 to 25 also declined by almost a third for offences committed between 1989 and 2012, from 6,200 per 100,000 to 4,400 per 100,000.
Conviction rates for those over the age of 25 remained steady, meaning the average age at which people in Scotland are convicted has increased.
The research was conducted by the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN), based at the University of Edinburgh's School of Law.
Prof Susan McVie, director of AQMeN, said she believed better crime prevention measures to protect households and properties could be deterring youngsters.
She said: "Dramatic changes in the way that the youth justice system operates in Scotland could also be responsible, meaning that children are kept out of the justice system for as long as possible."
Further AQMeN research shows that, in line with other western countries, Scotland has experienced a falling crime rate.
People in Scotland are also less likely than ever to become a victim of crime.
The proportion of the population likely to escape being a victim rose from 76% in 1993 to 82% in 2010/11.
However, those living in high crime areas continue to be disproportionately victimised, with 0.5 per cent of the population experiencing more than 10 per cent of all crime.
This includes the most personal thefts, assaults and threats.
The research will be presented as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's Festival of Social Science on 4 November.