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Does Increased Abortion Lead to Reduced Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility

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Author Info

  • Anindya Sen

    (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo)

Abstract

Donohue and Levitt (2001) attribute over half the current decline in U.S. crime rates to the legalization of abortion. I contribute to the literature by using provincial Canadian data, which permits the segregation of trends in teenage abortions from general abortion rates. This distinction is important, as I find that a much larger drop in violent crime (almost half) during the nineteen-nineties, is attributable to the increase in teenage abortions due to abortion legalization. In contrast, the fall in general abortion rates accounts for a quarter of the decline. Hence, falling crime rates are largely attributable to abortion legalization resulting in better timing of births, rather than lower cohort size. Further, I find that the drop in teenage fertility rates during the nineteen-sixties and seventies, accounts for the entire fall in violent crime. This is probably in part, due to the increase in contraception sophistication (the pill) witnessed during that era.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Waterloo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 02004.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision: Jan 2002
Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:02004

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Cited by:
  1. Jennifer Hunt, 2003. "Teen Births Keep American Crime High," NBER Working Papers 9632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Theodore J. Joyce, 2006. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime: A Response to Donohue and Levitt (2001,2004, 2006)," NBER Working Papers 12607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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