But what if it turns out that other factors are actually having far more influence on the crime rate than these get-tough policies? Why lock up two million people--more than half of them nonviolent offenders--at a cost of tens of billions of dollars a year and the disruption of untold millions of lives, if the real explanations for the drop in crime lie elsewhere?
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics. By authors In recent weeks there has been a lot of media coverage of a paper John Donohue and I recently wrote connecting the legalization of abortion in the s to reduced crime in the s. A preliminary version of the paper is posted here.
The purpose of the study is to better understand the reasons for the sharp decline in crime during this decade, which, prior to our research, had largely eluded explanation. While there are many other theories as to why crime declined more prisoners, better policing, the strong economy, the decline of crack, etc.
Advertisement The theoretical justification for our argument rests on two simple assumptions: The first assumption, that abortion reduces the number of unwanted children, is true virtually by definition.
The second assumption, that unwanted children are at increased risk for criminal involvement, is supported by three decades of academic research.
If one accepts these two assumptions, then a direct mechanism by which the legalization of abortion can reduce crime has been established. At that point, the question merely becomes: Is the magnitude of the impact large or small? Our preliminary research suggests that the effect of abortion legalization is large.
According to our estimates, as much as one-half of the remarkable decline in crime in the s may be attributable to the legalization of abortion. We base our conclusions on four separate data analyses.
First, we demonstrate that crime rates began to fall 18 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe vs.
Wade legalized abortion across the nation, just the point at which babies born under legalized abortion would be reaching the peak adolescent crime years. In my opinion, this is the weakest of our four data analyses.
In a simple time series, many factors are negatively correlated with crime. Furthermore, the world is a complicated place and it would be simplistic to believe that legalized abortion could overpower all other social determinants of crime.
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. Dec 19, · More shocking still, the link they found was between abortion and crime. Or to be more precise, between the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and the much heralded fall in crime rates starting about 18 years later, in the early s. The purpose of studying the link between abortion and crime isn’t to advocate abortion, or to hail it as a crime-fighting tool, but to instead understand trends in crime, and, ultimately, how the world works. In studying this, we can discover why people commit crimes, what affects crime rates, and the effects of abortion on society.
Second, we show that the five states that legalized abortion in three years before Roe vs. Wade--saw crime begin to decrease roughly three years earlier than the rest of the nation. This is a bit more convincing to me but still far from conclusive.
Advertisement Third, we demonstrate that states with high abortion rates in the mids have had much greater crime decreases in the s than states that had low abortion rates in the s. This relationship holds true even when we take into account changes in the size of prison populations, number of police, poverty rates, measures of the economy, changes in welfare generosity, and other changes in fertility.His study, published in the academic journal, ‘Crime and Delinquency’, points out that teenage abortions accounted for more than 30% of U.S.
abortions in the s, but only 16% to 18% since , which suggests the previous research finding a link between higher abortion rates and lower crime rates could be getting outdated. The purpose of studying the link between abortion and crime isn’t to advocate abortion, or to hail it as a crime-fighting tool, but to instead understand trends in crime, and, ultimately, how the world works.
In studying this, we can discover why people commit crimes, what affects crime rates, and the effects of abortion on society. In , Ted Joyce published a study concluding that the negative association between legalized abortion and crime rates reported in Donohue and Levitt's study was actually due to unmeasured period effects from, among other factors, changes in crack cocaine use.
Aug 23, · The link between abortion and unwantedness, and also between unwantedness and later criminality, have been shown most clearly in Scandinavian data. Abortion rates among African-Americans are higher, .
Following Donohue and Levitt (), this paper looks at abortion and crime data from to further investigate the link between legalized abortion in the s and its effect on the crime rate starting in the s.
Does abortion reduce the crime rate? That’s the question Americans have been asking this week as we’ve read news reports of a new study linking the drop in youth crime to the legalization of abortion a generation ago.