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Abortion and crime: Cross-country evidence from Europe

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  • François, Abel
  • Magni-Berton, Raul
  • Weill, Laurent

Abstract

The publication of Donohue and Levitt (2001)’s paper on the impact of legalized abortion on the decline of crime in the US has created a wide debate in the literature. However, the vast majority of papers have been implemented in the US setting, and the few other works were single-country studies. In this research, we aim to provide new evidence on the abortion-crime link by examining this issue using a sample of 16 Western European countries. The cross-country investigation allows the exploitation of the different dates of abortion legalization in Europe. We perform regressions of crime rates on different measurements of abortion especially the share of aborted adults, defined as the accumulation of aborted children in the past that would have become adults. We find that abortion rate has a significant and negative impact on crime rates, specifically, homicide and theft. We also observe support for the impact of legalization of abortion on the reduction of crime when considering different calculations of the accumulation of abortions based on different criteria for the legalization of abortion. Thus, our results are consistent with the findings of Donohue and Levitt (2001) for the US.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:40:y:2014:i:c:p:24-35
    DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2014.08.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2008. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 425-440.
    2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
    3. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
    4. John R. Lott & John Whitley, 2007. "Abortion And Crime: Unwanted Children And Out-Of-Wedlock Births," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 304-324, April.
    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.
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    7. 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.
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    9. 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).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Abortion; Crime; Theft; Homicide;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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