Further Tests of Abortion and Crime: A Response to Donohue and Levitt (2001,2004, 2006)
The association between legalized abortion and crime remains a contentious finding with major implications for social policy. In this paper, I replicate analyses of Donohue and Levitt (2001, 2004, 2006) in which they regress age-specific arrests and homicides on cohort-specific abortion rates. I find that the coefficient on the abortion rate in a regression of age-specific homicide or arrest rates has either the wrong sign or is small in magnitude and statistically insignificant when adjusted for serial correlation. Efforts to instrument for measurement error are flawed and attempts to identify cohort from selection effects are mis-specified. Nor are their findings robust to alternative identification strategies. A convincing test of abortion and crime should be based on an exogenous change in abortion that had a demonstrable effect on fertility. Thus, I analyze changes in abortion rates before and after Roe to identify changes in unwanted fertility. I use within-state comparison groups to net out hard to measure period effects. I also follow Donohue and Levitt (2004) and average the effects of abortion on crime over 15 to 20 years of the life of a cohort to lessen the impact of the crack epidemic. I find little support for a credible association between legalized abortion and crime.
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"The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,"
NBER Working Papers
8004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Journal of Human Resources,
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- Jonathan Klick & Sven Neelsen & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper Nr. 79, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
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- Ted Joyce, 2004. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime," NBER Working Papers 10564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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).
- John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," NBER Working Papers 9532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Theodore J. Joyce & Naci H. Mocan, 1989. "The Impact of a Ban on Legalized Abortion on Adolescent Childbearing in New York City," NBER Working Papers 3002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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