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