The connection between the abortion and the crime rates

They compared these unwanted children to another group — the next child born after each of the unwanted children at the hospital.

The connection between the abortion and the crime rates

Legalized abortion and crime effect - Wikipedia

May 15, Levitt Two very vocal critics, Steve Sailer and John Lott, have been exerting a lot of energy lately trying to convince the world that the abortion reduces crime hypothesis is not correct.

A number of readers have asked me to respond to these criticisms. Crime started falling three years earlier in these states, with property crime done by younger people falling before violent crime.

In some states like North Dakota and in parts of the deep South, it was virtually impossible to get an abortion even after Roe v. If one compares states that had high abortion rates in the mid s to states that had low abortion rates in the mid s, you see the following patterns with crime.

The Link Between Abortion and Crime - Break Point

For the period fromthe two sets of states high abortion states and low abortion states have nearly identical crime patterns. Note, that this is a period before the generations exposed to legalized abortion are old enough to do much crime. So this is exactly what the Donohue-Levitt theory predicts.

Our original data ended in If one updated the study, the results would be similar. For people born before abortion legalization, there is no difference in the crime patterns for high abortion and low abortion states, just as the Donohue-Levitt theory predicts. These six points all support the hypothesis.

There is one fact that, without more careful analysis, argues against the Donohue-Levitt story: These young males who were hitting their peak crime years were born right around the time abortion was legalized.

If you look at the serious criticisms that have been leveled against the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis, virtually all of them revolve around this spike in homicide by young men in the late s-early s. There are also some non-serious criticisms, which I will address below.

This is the point that Sailer is making, and also the point made far more rigorously by Ted Joyce in an article published in the Journal of Human Resources.

The connection between the abortion and the crime rates

So, a reasonable thing to ask yourself is: Was there anything else going on in the late s that might be causing young Black males to be killing each other at alarming rates that might be swamping the impact of legalized abortion over a short time period? The obvious culprit you might think about is crack cocaine.

Crack cocaine was hitting the inner cities at exactly this time, disproportionately affecting minorities, and the violence was heavily concentrated among young Black males such as the gang members we write about in Freakonomics. So to figure out whether this spike in young Black male homicides is evidence against legalized abortion reducing crime, or even evidence legalized abortion causes crime, one needs to control for the crack epidemic to find the answer.

This is the argument that I have been making for years. The key points I mentioned in Slate five years ago in debating Sailer are reprinted below: Your hypothesis that crack, not abortion, is the story, provides a testable alternative to our explanation of the facts.

The fall of the crack epidemic left many of the bad apples of this cohort dead, imprisoned, or scared straight. No argument from me here.


Unfortunately for your story, the empirical evidence overwhelmingly rejects this claim. Using specifications similar to those in our paper, we find that the states with the biggest increases in murder over the rising crack years did see murder rates fall faster between and But for every 10 percent that murder rose between andit fell by only 2.

For your story to explain the decline in crime that we attribute to legalized abortion, this estimate would have to be about five times bigger.

Moreover, for violent crime and property crime, increases in these crimes over the period are actually associated with increases in the period as well. In other words, for crimes other than murder, the impact of crack is not even in the right direction for your story.

A reasonable proxy for how hard the crack epidemic hit a state is the rise in crime in that state over the period States that had high abortion rates in the ’70s were hit harder by the crack epidemic, thus any link between falling crime in the ’90s and abortion rates in the ’70s is spurious.

If either assumption 1 or 2 is true, then the crack epidemic can explain some of the rise and fall in crime in the ’80s and ’90s.

Figure 2 shows the pattern of conviction rates for those aged , and 21 plus in England and Wales. The trends are not supportive of a link between abortion and crime.

Rates for the age group decrease but only from , probably too late to have been caused by abortion legalisation. tween abortion rates in the mids and crime changes be-tween and (prior to the point when the abortion-affected cohorts have reached the age of signi” cant criminal involvement).

Second, virtually all of the abortion-related crime decrease can be attributed to reductions in crime among the cohorts born after abortion legalization. Critics have argued that Donohue and Levitt's methodologies are flawed and that no statistically significant relationship between abortion and later crime rates can be proven.

Criticisms include the assumption in the Donohue-Levitt study that abortion rates increased substantially since Supreme Court case Roe v. A number of factors lead us to believe that the link between abortion and crime is causal.

First, there is no relationship be- tween abortion rates in the mids and crime changes be-tween and (prior to the point when the abortion-affected cohorts have reached the age of signi” cant criminal involvement).

The connection between the abortion and the crime rates

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Legalized abortion and crime effect - Wikipedia