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Abortion and Crime: Cross-Country Evidence from Europe

Author

Listed:
  • Abel François

    (LaRGE Research Center, Université de Strasbourg)

  • Raul Magni-Berton
  • Laurent Weill

    (LaRGE Research Center, Université de Strasbourg)

Abstract

The publication of Donohue and Levitt (2001)’s paper on the impact of legalized abortion on the decline of crime in the US has created a wide debate in the literature. However, the vast majority of papers have been implemented in the US setting, and the few other works were single-country studies. In this research, we aim to provide new evidence on the abortion-crime link by examining this issue using a sample of 16 Western European countries. The cross-country investigation allows the exploitation of the different dates of abortion legalization in Europe. We perform regressions of crime rates on the share of aborted adults, defined as the accumulation of aborted children in the past that would have become adults. We find that abortion rate has a significant and negative impact on crime rates, specifically, homicide and theft. We also observe support for the impact of legalization of abortion on the reduction of crime when considering different calculations of the accumulation of abortions based on different criteria for the legalization of abortion. Thus, our results are consistent with the findings of Donohue and Levitt (2001) for the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Abel François & Raul Magni-Berton & Laurent Weill, 2013. "Abortion and Crime: Cross-Country Evidence from Europe," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2013-11, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg.
  • Handle: RePEc:lar:wpaper:2013-11
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2008. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 425-440.
    2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
    3. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    4. Leo H. Kahane & David Paton & Rob Simmons, 2008. "The Abortion–Crime Link: Evidence from England and Wales," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 1-21, February.
    5. Altindag, Duha T., 2012. "Crime and unemployment: Evidence from Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 145-157.
    6. Levine, P.B. & Staiger, D. & Kane, T.J. & Zimmerman, D.J., 1999. "Roe v Wade and American fertility," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 89(2), pages 199-203.
    7. John J. Donohue, III & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    8. 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.
    9. John R. Lott & John Whitley, 2007. "Abortion And Crime: Unwanted Children And Out‐Of‐Wedlock Births," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 304-324, April.
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    11. John Lott & John Whitley, "undated". "Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1018, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
    12. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2008. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 407-423.
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    Cited by:

    1. John J Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2020. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime over the Last Two Decades," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 241-302.
    2. Alexi Thompson & Christopher Jeffords, 2018. "Abortion and Property Crime: What becomes of the Mothers?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 38(4), pages 2490-2499.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Abortion; Crime; Theft; Homicide;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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