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Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?

  • Ted Joyce
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    In this paper I compare changes in homicide and arrest rates among cohorts born before and after the legalization of abortion to changes in crime in the same years among similar cohorts who were unexposed to legalized abortion. I find little consistent evidence that the legalization of abortion in selected states around 1970, and then in the remaining states following Roe v. Wade, had an effect on recent crime rates. I conclude that the dramatic association as reported in a recent study is most likely the result of unmeasured period effects such as changes in crack cocaine use.

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    Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()

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    Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:39:y:2004:i:1:p1-28
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    1. Eve Powell-Griner & Katherine Trent, 1987. "Sociodemographic determinants of abortion in The United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 553-561, November.
    2. Jeff Grogger & Michael Willis, 2000. "The Emergence Of Crack Cocaine And The Rise In Urban Crime Rates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 519-529, November.
    3. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
    4. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John R. Lott, Jr. & John Whitley, 2001. "Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births," School of Economics Working Papers 2001-05, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
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