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The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment

  • Christopher L. Foote

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and University of Maryland)

  • Christopher F. Goetz

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and University of Maryland)

This comment makes three observations about Donohue and Levitt's paper on abortion and crime (Quarterly Journal of Economics 119(1) (2001), 249-275). First, there is a coding mistake in the concluding regressions, which identify abortion's effect on crime by comparing the experiences of different age cohorts within the same state and year. Second, correcting this error and using a more appropriate per capita specification for the crime variable generates much weaker results. Third, earlier tests in the paper, which exploit cross-state rather than within-state variation, are not robust to allowing for differential state trends based on statewide crime rates that predate the period when abortion could have had a causal effect on crime. (c) 2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 123 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 407-423

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:1:p:407-423
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