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Unmarried fertility, crime, and cocial stigma

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  • Kendall, Todd
  • Tamura, Robert

Abstract

Children born to unmarried parents may receive lower human capital investments in youth, leading to higher levels of criminal activity as adults. Therefore, unmarried fertility may be positively associated with future crime. On the other hand, in an environment in which social stigma attached to non-marital fertility is high, many low match quality parents will choose (or be forced) to marry, and children reared in these families may actually be worse off than had their parents not married. We explore these effects empirically, finding that over the long run, unmarried fertility is positively associated with murder and property crime, but that the degree of social stigma has affected this relationship. For instance, our results suggest that some marriages in the 1940s and 1950s were of such low quality that the children involved would have been better off in single-parent households; however, this finding is reversed for marriages in the 1960s and thereafter – many marriages that would have benefited children have since been foregone. We also discuss implications for the debate over the “abortion-crime” link of Donohue and Levitt (2001).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8031.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8031

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Keywords: unmarried fertility; abortion; future crime; social stigma;

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  1. Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger & Thomas J. Kane & David J. Zimmerman, 1996. "Roe v. Wade and American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 5615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jennifer Hunt, 2003. "Teen Births Keep American Crime High," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 343, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1997. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child?"," NBER Working Papers 6034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," NBER Working Papers 10175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Donohue, John J & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," CEPR Discussion Papers 5493, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2006. "Abortion and Selection," NBER Working Papers 12150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
  9. Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
  10. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime," NBER Working Papers 10564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Anna Aizer & Sara McLanahan, 2005. "The Impact of Child Support Enforcement on Fertility, Parental Investment and Child Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 11522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul H. Rubin & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2003. "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 344-376, August.
  13. Leo H. Kahane & David Paton & Rob Simmons, 2005. "The Abortion-Crime Link: Evidence from England and Wales," Occasional Papers 16, Industrial Economics Division.
  14. John Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," NBER Working Papers 8004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Berggren, Niclas, 1997. "Rhetoric or reality? An economic analysis of the effects of religion in Sweden," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 571-596.
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  17. repec:lan:wpaper:3699 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2006. "The Impact of an Abortion Ban on Socioeconomic Outcomes of Children: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 744-773, August.
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  20. Mark Duggan, 2000. "More Guns, More Crime," NBER Working Papers 7967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Chad Turner & Robert Tamura & Sean Mulholland & Scott Baier, 2007. "Education and income of the states of the United States: 1840–2000," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 101-158, June.
  22. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  23. 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.
  24. Michael J. Brien & Lee A. Hillard & Linda Waite, . "Cohabitation, Marriage, and Non-Fertility," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 97-5, Chicago - Population Research Center.
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Cited by:
  1. Neanidis, Kyriakos C. & Papadopoulou, Vea, 2013. "Crime, fertility, and economic growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 101-121.

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