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The Impact of Abortion on Crime and Crime-Related Behavior

Author

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  • Randi Hjalmarsson
  • Andreea Mitrut
  • Cristian Pop-Eleches

Abstract

The 1966 abolition and 1989 legalization of abortion in Romania immediately doubled and decreased by about a third the number of births per month, respectively. To isolate the link between abortion access and crime while abstracting from cohort and general equilibrium effects, we compare birth month cohorts on either side of the abortion regime. For both the abolition and legalization of abortion, we find large and significant effects on the level of crime and risky-behavior related hospitalization, but an insignificant effect on crime and hospitalization rates (i.e. when normalizing by the size of the birth month cohort). In other words, the Romanian abortion reforms did affect crime, but all of the effect appears to be driven by cohort size effects rather than selection or unwantedness effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Randi Hjalmarsson & Andreea Mitrut & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2019. "The Impact of Abortion on Crime and Crime-Related Behavior," NBER Working Papers 26024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26024
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie, 2017. "Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and Children’s Educational Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 393-430.
    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. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Stephens, Melvin, Jr, 2006. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 481-505, October.
    6. 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).
    7. Sen Anindya, 2007. "Does Increased Abortion Lead to Lower Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-38, September.
    8. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
    9. Randi Hjalmarsson & Helena Holmlund & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2015. "The Effect of Education on Criminal Convictions and Incarceration: Causal Evidence from Micro‐data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1290-1326, September.
    10. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2006. "The Impact of an Abortion Ban on Socioeconomic Outcomes of Children: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 744-773, August.
    11. Joseph J. Doyle Jr., 2008. "Child Protection and Adult Crime: Using Investigator Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of Foster Care," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 746-770, August.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2019. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime over the Last Two Decades," NBER Working Papers 25863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chevalier, Arnaud & Marie, Olivier, 2019. "Risky moms, risky kids? Fertility and crime after the fall of the wall," CEPR Discussion Papers 14251, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    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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