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Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz (2005)

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  • John J. Donohue
  • Steven D. Levitt

Abstract

Donohue and Levitt (2001) argue that the legalization of abortion in the United States in the 1970s played an important role in explaining the observed decline in crime approximately two decades later. Foote and Goetz (2005) challenge the results presented in one of the tables in that original paper. In this reply, we regretfully acknowledge the omission of state-year interactions in the published version of that table, but show that their inclusion does not alter the qualitative results (or their statistical significance), although it does reduce the magnitude of the estimates. When one uses a more carefully constructed measure of abortion (e.g. one that takes into account cross-state mobility, or doing a better job of matching dates of birth to abortion exposure), however, the evidence in support of the abortion-crime hypothesis is as strong or stronger than suggested in our original work.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11987.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Publication status: published as Donohue, John J. and Steven D. Levitt. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz." Quarterly Journal of Economics 123, 1 (2008): 425-440.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11987

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  1. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  2. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine, 2007. "Abortion Legalization and Life-Cycle Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  3. 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.
  4. John Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," NBER Working Papers 8004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John J. Donohue, III & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  6. Roland G. Fryer & Paul S. Heaton & Steven D. Levitt & Kevin M. Murphy, 2005. "Measuring the Impact of Crack Cocaine," NBER Working Papers 11318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Julio C�ceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2012. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 215 - 248.

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