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Does Increased Abortion Lead to Reduced Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility

Author

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  • Anindya Sen

    (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo)

Abstract

Donohue and Levitt (2001) attribute over half the current decline in U.S. crime rates to the legalization of abortion. I contribute to the literature by using provincial Canadian data, which permits the segregation of trends in teenage abortions from general abortion rates. This distinction is important, as I find that a much larger drop in violent crime (almost half) during the nineteen-nineties, is attributable to the increase in teenage abortions due to abortion legalization. In contrast, the fall in general abortion rates accounts for a quarter of the decline. Hence, falling crime rates are largely attributable to abortion legalization resulting in better timing of births, rather than lower cohort size. Further, I find that the drop in teenage fertility rates during the nineteen-sixties and seventies, accounts for the entire fall in violent crime. This is probably in part, due to the increase in contraception sophistication (the pill) witnessed during that era.

Suggested Citation

  • Anindya Sen, 2002. "Does Increased Abortion Lead to Reduced Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility," Working Papers 02004, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:02004
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Hunt, Jennifer, 2006. "Do Teen Births Keep American Crime High?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 533-566, October.
    3. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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).
    5. Theodore J. Joyce, 2006. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime: A Response to Donohue and Levitt (2001,2004, 2006)," NBER Working Papers 12607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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