Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Abortion Led to More Crime

That's what John Mueller concludes when he reviewed Freakonomics for the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Mueller turns Stephen Leavitt's "abortion leads to a reduction in crime" theory on its head when he notes that abortion increased the number of men who would have otherwise been financial responsible for their children. According to Mueller, having dependent children is something which seems to play a role in lowering a man's chances of committing homicide.
Legalizing abortion didn't lower homicide rates 15-20 years later by eliminating infants who might, if they survived, have become murderers: it raised the homicide rate almost at once by turning their fathers back into men without dependent children -- a small but steady share of whom do murder. The homicide rate rose sharply in the 1960s and '70s when expanding welfare and legal abortion sharply reduced economic fatherhood, and it dropped sharply in the '90s partly due to a recovering birth rate, but mostly because welfare reform and incarceration raised the share of men outside prison who were supporting children.

I wish that Mueller examined more crimes than just homicide but I think his theory is interesting.

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