Skip to comments.Freakonomics Claim Abortion Drops Crime Rates Refuted Again
Posted on 06/02/2011 3:59:08 PM PDT by wagglebee
Boston Globe writer James Alan Fox has yet another refutation of the claim by economists John Donohue and Steven Levitt in their infamous book Freakonomics that legalizing abortion led to a drop in crime rates.
Fox said readers of the newspaper emailed him recently concerning a New York Times piece on crime rate reductions and they advocated the disproved notion that legalized abortion resulted in a reduction in violent crimes. Fox, a criminologist, has responded and says the theory is full of holes:
Despite persuasive logic regarding a reduction in the number of children born to circumstances that would place them at-risk for growing into criminality, the significance of this effect appears to have been grossly overstated. For example, nearly 60% of the decline in murder since 1990 involved perpetrators ages 25 and olderindividuals who would have been born prior to the landmark abortion decision. As shown in the figure below, there were substantial reductions during the 1990s in homicides committed by older age groups, especially those in the 25-34 year-old age range.
The abortion-crime link also cannot account for the transient surge in youth homicide during the late 1980s, if not for which the 1990s would not have witnessed such a sizable decline. The rise and then fall in youth homicide before and then after 1990 has much more to do with fast changing patterns of drug trade, gang activity and illegal gun supply than a sudden shift in abortion policy.
Finally, the abortion-crime hypothesis cannot explain the large drop in murder and other violent crime from the first six months of 2009 to the corresponding months of 2010. In fact, nothing really can.
This is not the first time Fox, of Northeastern University, has refuted the abortion-crime theory. He released a study in December 2008 showing a large rise in homicides by black teens in recent years even though black women have the highest abortion rate. The study found homicides by blacks between the ages of 14 and 17 have jumped 34 percent from 2000 through 2007. The number of crimes for white people in the same age range did not increase.
In the book Freakonomics, Levitt claimed legalizing abortion led to a major drop in murder and other violent crimes in the 1980s and 1990s. He theorized that the babies who were victimized by abortion would have been more likely to commit crimes. But Foxs study shows violent crime in the black community has gone up in the last decade not down.
Yes, its not nearly as bad as it was in 1990, but it is worse than it was in 2000, he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
An August 2007 study conducted by a researcher at the University of Maryland shows that legalized abortion has led to higher rates of crime and increased murder rates. That occurred because a higher percentage of children grew up in single-parent homes during the years following Roe v. Wade.
The findings were published in the April 2007 issue of the academic journal Economic Inquiry and are part of a new book written by researcher John R. Lott. According to Lott, the high courts decision ultimately resulted in more out-of-wedlock births, a reduction in the number of children adopted and fewer married parents.
Before that, Lott and John Whitley, affiliated with the University of Chicago, wrote a paper in August 2006 challenging the abortion-crime reduction claims.
Meanwhile, in November 2005, Christopher Foote, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and research assistant Christopher Goetz, told the Wall St. Journal the data Levitt used was faulty.
Foote said there was a missing formula in Levitts original research that allowed him to ignore certain factors that may have contributed to the lowering of crime rates during the 1980s and 1990s. Foote also argues that Levitt counted the total number of arrests made when he should have used per-capita figures. After Foote adjusted for both factors, the abortion effect simply disappeared, the Journal reported.
There are no statistical grounds for believing that the hypothetical youths who were aborted as fetuses would have been more likely to commit crimes had they reached maturity than the actual youths who developed from fetuses and carried to term, Foote and Goetz say in their report.
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But it is a perverse argument.
More people means more crime, more suicides, more traffic.
More people also means more amazing talents, more hopeful stories of overcoming adversity, more scientific discoveries, more writing, more friends, more hot babes, more EVERYTHING.
Everything that humans do - is reduced when abortion is performed.
To me this issue says a lot about how you value humankind.
Most liberals hate everyone, including themselves - and think mankind (their own “white oppressive patriarchal culture” especially)is a blight upon the Earth.
Myself, I love my brothers and sisters, the more the merrier!
Another person is not just another mouth to feed, but also two helping hands.
And just how is the crime rate dropped when every abortion is a murder?
Legalizing it isn’t going to get them out of accountability with God. Murder is murder, whether the state prosecutes or not.
It's hard to get them to admit it in public because they know how awful it sounds, but several have told me this in private.
Yes. Abortion actually encourages more crime, esp. sex offenders. Protects the irresponsible and the criminals from their consequences, in addition to being “legalized” murder itself. A heinous system of genocide, far surpassing all prior dictators’.
More that ONE BILLION babies have been killed worldwide in the past century.
Statistically that means that a thousand people who are as intelligent as anyone who has ever lived (on the level of DaVinci, Mozart, Locke, Mills, Jefferson, etc.) never had the opportunity to leave their mark on the world.
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the person who would cure cancer was murdered in utero and God does not see fit to send another.
Well “cure” is a stretch, given what I know about biology - but I accept your point 100%.
That argument put the “Freak” into their stupid book.
I don’t care how much you line up the numbers saying that most would be the children of single mothers.
What ever happened to overcoming adversity?
They look at numbers and just see averages.
You miss the entire show looking at averages.
People who make history are not average.
The fact is that a significant percentage of abortions are performed on whites women in their teens and early twenties from upper-middle class families. Women from the same backgrounds who choose to keep their babies typically do not become impoverished and their children do not become criminals.
The abortion pushers also ignore the FACT that, at least in America, Canada and western Europe, there are stable families willing to adopt EVERY SINGLE BABY who would otherwise be aborted.
Their ‘parents’ had to go through a screen for being stable people who wanted a child to raise.
Even if they're not, being "average" is far preferable to being murdered.
It is a tragedy that these babies are aborted, not only because they deserve life, but because there are couples with loving arms reaching out to receive them and love them. How tragic is this?
Criminals are one thing, demoKKKrats are another. What percentage of the people aborted since 1973 would have been lifelong demoKKKrats?? I mean, are there really that many Republicans and conservatives having abortions out there?? Unless you can answer that, there’s an obvious potential problem with wanting to pass draconian laws.
Kill everyone, end all crime. Logical, no?
I guess I’m the only one who never thought “Freakonomics” a particularly clever title.
Let me see if I've got this straight, YOU SUPPORT ABORTION based on the theory that those aborted would wind up being Democrats? Is that correct?
And for the record, of the 53 MILLION BABIES MURDERED since 1973, not a single one was a Democrat because not a single one ever drew a breath.
Unless you can answer that, theres an obvious potential problem with wanting to pass draconian laws.
Really, you think that ending abortion would be "draconian"?
You do realize that Free Republic is a CONSERVATIVE PRO-LIFE forum don't you?
"Draconian laws?" You made a wrong turn.
Draconian laws?! Are you saying that women have a RIGHT to murder their own children because being pregnant may be inconvenient? Abortion is a modern day Moloch.
Here's what I AM saying.... I would advise women against abortions in something like 95% of cases. That other five percent of cases involve questions of rape or genetic compromise and the like; all you could hope to accomplish by banning those abortions is the destruction of the Republican party and the conservative movement. Ninety percent of Down Syndrome pregnancies in the industrialized world end in abortion. When you are being beaten nine to one in the marketplace of ideas or in the application of those ideas, you should not be talking about "having a moral absolute".
The 95% of abortions you want to get rid of are the ones young women are having to avoid "ruining their lives" which would have amounted to young married women happily having first children a hundred years ago. The way you get rid of those abortions is again make it both respectable and economically feasible for people to marry and start families in their late teens and early twenties as it was a hundred years ago.
Aside from all of that there actually is a question of the effect of Roe/Wade on crime and, worse, on the national percentage of demoKKKrats. Until somebody makes a study of that one, you have to assume that without Roe/Wade, it might have been twenty years since anybody other than a DemoKKKrat ever won any sort of an election in America.
I'm not trying to poop parties or be a devil's advocate here, just stating the obvious. Religion is the study of how the world ought to be; economics is the study of how the world actually is, and the world we live in is a hard one.