Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?
This paper examines the relationship between the legalization of abortion and subsequent decreases in crime. In a current study, researchers estimate that the legalization of abortion explains over half of the recent decline in national crime rates. The association is identified by correlating changes in crime with changes in the abortion ratio weighted by the proportion of the criminal population exposed to legalized abortion. In this paper, I use an alternative identification strategy. I analyze changes in homicide and arrest rates among teens and young adults born before and after 1970 in states that legalized abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. I compare these changes with variation in homicide and arrest rates among cohorts from the same period but who were unexposed to legalized abortion. I find little evidence to support the claim that legalized abortion caused the reduction in crime. I conclude that the association between abortion and crime is not causal, but most likely the result of confounding from unmeasured period effects such as changes in crack cocaine use and its spillover effects.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2001|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Joyce, Ted. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?" Journal of Human Resources XXXIX, 1 (2004): 1-28.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Arline T. Geronimus & Sanders Korenman, 1992. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of Teen Childbearing Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1187-1214.
- Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000.
"The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,"
Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series
qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Theodore Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1990. "Pregnancy wantedness and the early initiation of prenatal care," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 27(1), pages 1-17, February.
- Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
- Theodore Joyce & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman, 2000. "The effect of pregnancy intention on child development," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(1), pages 83-94, February.
- Thomas J. Kane & Douglas Staiger, 1996. "Teen Motherhood and Abortion Access," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 467-506.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8319. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.