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Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births

Author

Listed:
  • John R. Lott, Jr.

    (School of Law, Yale University)

  • John Whitley

    (School of Economics, University of Adelaide)

Abstract

Abortion may prevent the birth of ''unwanted'' children, who would have relatively small investments in human capital and a higher probability of crime. On the other hand, some research suggests that legalizing abortion increases out-of-wedlock births and single parent families, which implies the opposite impact on investments in human capital and thus crime. The question is: what is the net impact? We find evidence that legalizing abortion increased murder rates by around about 0.5 to 7 percent. Previous estimates are shown to suffer from not directly linking the cohorts who are committing crime with whether they had been born before or after abortion was legal.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:adl:wpaper:2001-05
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    File URL: https://media.adelaide.edu.au/economics/papers/doc/wp2001-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, June.
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    5. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    6. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen & Michael L. Katz, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317.
    7. Plassmann, Florenz & Tideman, T Nicolaus, 2001. "Does the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns Deter Countable Crimes? Only a Count Analysis Can Say," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 771-798, October.
    8. Lott, John Jr., 1987. "Juvenile delinquency and education: A comparison of public and private provision," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 163-175, December.
    9. Grossman, Michael & Joyce, Theodore J, 1990. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birth Weight Production Functions in New York City," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 983-1007, October.
    10. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    2. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; abortion; out-of-wedlock briths; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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