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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Leo H. Kahane & David Paton & Rob Simmons, 2008. "The Abortion–Crime Link: Evidence from England and Wales," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 1-21, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:75:y:2008:i:297:p:1-21
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0335.2007.00627.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Mitrut, Andreea & Pop-Eleches, Cristian, 2021. "The impact of abortion on crime and crime-related behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 200(C).
    2. W. Robert Reed, 2017. "Replication in labor economics," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 413-413, December.
    3. Ted Joyce, 2010. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," Chapters, in: Bruce L. Benson & Paul R. Zimmerman (ed.), Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 18, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2010. "What Do Economists Know about Crime?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons For and From Latin America, pages 269-302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. John J Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2020. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime over the Last Two Decades," American Law and Economics Review, American Law and Economics Association, vol. 22(2), pages 241-302.
    7. François, Abel & Magni-Berton, Raul & Weill, Laurent, 2014. "Abortion and crime: Cross-country evidence from Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 24-35.
    8. Todd D. Kendall & Robert Tamura, 2010. "Unmarried Fertility, Crime, and Social Stigma," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 185-221, February.
    9. Clarke, Damian, 2023. "The Economics of Abortion Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 16395, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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