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Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?

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  • Ted Joyce

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:39:y:2004:i:1:p1-28
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    3. Caulkins, J.P. & Schoeff, D., 2001. "Drug prices and emergency department mentions for cocaine and heroin," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 91(9), pages 1446-1448.
    4. 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.
    5. Eve Powell-Griner & Katherine Trent, 1987. "Sociodemographic determinants of abortion in The United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 24(4), pages 553-561, November.
    6. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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