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The Abortion-Crime Link: Evidence from England and Wales

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  • LEO H. KAHANE
  • DAVID PATON
  • ROB SIMMONS

Abstract

Using data from England and Wales, we test the hypothesis that legalizing abortion reduces crime. The timing of changes in crime rates in aggregate data is generally inconsistent with this hypothesis. Using panel data on recorded crime from 1983 to 2001, we are able to replicate the negative association between abortion rates and reported crime that J. J. Donohue and S. D. Levitt found for the United States. However, this association breaks down under the scrutiny of robustness checks and is not present when we examine data on convictions broken down by age. Overall, we find no clear, consistent relationship between abortion and crime in England and Wales. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2007.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 75 (2008)
Issue (Month): 297 (02)
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:75:y:2008:i:297:p:1-21

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  1. Raphael, Steven & WINTER-EBMER, RUDOLF, 1998. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt5hb4h56g, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  2. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  6. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization And Child Living Circumstances: Who Is The ''Marginal Child''?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291, February.
  7. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 1998. "Socio-economic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: evidence from panel data of the German states," ZEW Discussion Papers 98-16, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," NBER Working Papers 9532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Reilly, Barry & Witt, Robert, 1996. "Crime, Deterrence and Unemployment in England and Wales: An Empirical Analysis," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 137-59, April.
  10. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  11. Sen Anindya, 2007. "Does Increased Abortion Lead to Lower Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-38, September.
  12. Ziggy MacDonald, 2002. "Official Crime Statistics: Their Use and Interpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages F85-F106, February.
  13. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
  14. Carmichael, Fiona & Ward, Robert, 2001. "Male unemployment and crime in England and Wales," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 111-115, October.
  15. Karin Edmark, 2005. "Unemployment and Crime: Is There a Connection?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(2), pages 353-373, 06.
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Cited by:
  1. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kendall, Todd & Tamura, Robert, 2008. "Unmarried fertility, crime, and cocial stigma," MPRA Paper 8031, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Abel François & Raul Magni-Berton & Laurent Weill, 2013. "Abortion and Crime: Cross-Country Evidence from Europe," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2013-11, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg (France).
  4. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2008. "What Do Economists Know About Crime?," NBER Working Papers 13759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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