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A Simple Test of Abortion and Crime


  • Ted Joyce

    (National Bureau of Economic Research and Baruch College, City University of New York)


I first replicate Donohue and Levitt's results for violent and property crime arrest rates. I apply their data and specification to an analysis of age-specific homicide rates and murder arrest rates. The coefficients on the abortion rate have the wrong sign for two of the four measures of crime and none is statistically significant at conventional levels. I then use the legalization of abortion in 1973 to exploit two sources of variation: between-state changes in abortion rates before and after Roe, and cross-cohort differences in exposure to legalized abortion. I find no meaningful association between abortion and age-specific crime rates. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Ted Joyce, 2009. "A Simple Test of Abortion and Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 112-123, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:1:p:112-123

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 2007. "The Value of Life and the Rise in Health Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 39-72.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chudik, Alexander & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Yang, Jui-Chung, 2016. "Half-panel jackknife fixed effects estimation of panels with weakly exogenous regressor," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 281, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    2. Chen, Daniel L. & Levonyan, Vardges & Yeh, Susan, 2016. "Policies Affect Preferences: Evidence from Random Variation in Abortion Jurisprudence," IAST Working Papers 16-58, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    3. Nunley, John M. & Seals, Richard Alan & Zietz, Joachim, 2011. "Demographic change, macroeconomic conditions, and the murder rate: The case of the United States, 1934–2006," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 942-948.
    4. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2012. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 215-248.
    5. Ted Joyce, 2010. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Theodore J. Joyce & Ruoding Tan & Yuxiu Zhang, 2012. "Back to the Future? Abortion Before & After Roe," NBER Working Papers 18338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2011. "Econometric Estimates of Deterrence of the Death Penalty: Facts or Ideology?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 448-478, August.
    9. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9547-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Alejandro Gaviria & Carlos Medina & Jorge Andres Tamayo, 2010. "Assessing the Link between Adolescent Fertility and Urban Crime," Borradores de Economia 594, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    11. 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.
    12. Qing Liu & Ruosi Lu & Xiangjun Ma, 2015. "Corruption, Financial Resources and Exports," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(5), pages 1023-1043, November.
    13. Michał Brzeziński & Maria Halber, 2012. "Testing the Perturbation Sensitivity of Abortion-Crime Regressions," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 6(2), June.
    14. Mølland, Eirin, 2016. "Benefits from delay? The effect of abortion availability on young women and their children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 6-28.
    15. 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.
    16. Griffin Edwards, 2014. "Doing Their Duty: An Empirical Analysis of the Unintended Effect of Tarasoff v. Regents on Homicidal Activity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 321-348.
    17. George F. N. Shoukry, 2016. "Criminals' Response To Changing Crime Lucre," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(3), pages 1464-1483, July.
    18. John M. Nunley & Richard Alan Seals & Joachim Zietz, 2010. "Demographic Change, Macroeconomic Conditions, and the Murder Rate: The Case of the United States, 1934 to 2006," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2010-04, Department of Economics, Auburn University.

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