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The Abortion-Crime Link: Evidence from England and Wales

We use panel data from 1983 to 1997 for the 42 police force areas in England and Wales to test the hypothesis that legalizing abortion contributes to lower crime rates. We provide an advance on previous work by focusing on the impact of possible endogeneity of effective abortion rates with respect to crime. Our use of U.K. data allows us to exploit regional differences in the provision of free abortions to identify abortion rates. When we use a similar model and estimation methodology, we are able to replicate the negative association between abortion rates and reported crime found by Donohue and Levitt for the U.S. However, when we allow for the potential endogeneity of effective abortion rates with respect to crime, we find no clear connection between the two.

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Paper provided by Industrial Economics Division in its series Occasional Papers with number 16.

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Date of creation: 10 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nub:occpap:16
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  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.
  2. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  4. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization And Child Living Circumstances: Who Is The ''Marginal Child''?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291, February.
  5. Ziggy MacDonald, 2002. "Official Crime Statistics: Their Use and Interpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages F85-F106, February.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  7. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 1998. "Socio-economic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: evidence from panel data of the German states," ZEW Discussion Papers 98-16, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  9. Reilly, Barry & Witt, Robert, 1996. "Crime, Deterrence and Unemployment in England and Wales: An Empirical Analysis," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 137-59, April.
  10. Carmichael, Fiona & Ward, Robert, 2001. "Male unemployment and crime in England and Wales," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 111-115, October.
  11. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  12. 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.
  13. Karin Edmark, 2005. "Unemployment and Crime: Is There a Connection?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(2), pages 353-373, 06.
  14. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
  15. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
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