Does Legalizing Abortion Decrease Crime Rates?

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A chapter from the book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner looks at the decrease in crime rates from the 90s on. The authors look at all of the explanations that experts had given on the crime drop which range from innovative policing strategies to aging of the population. After explaining why each of these explanations has little to no effect on the crime drop they go on to offer up a new theory, the reasoning that legalizing abortion causes a decrease in crime rates. They explain that because abortions are more common in poverty stricken and challenged homes the children that would be born are more likely to grow up as criminals.
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What i think this chapter is missing is a look at the other side of things and what could disprove their theory. Besides the fact that this theory is opening up a whole new aspect of "what if's" with the abortions but it also completely avoids the other changes that could have caused this decrease as well. Such as the better education children are getting now compared to the past, also the rise of support, after school programs and other efforts that have been put in place concerning children raised in poverty stricken environments. Overall i think it's an interesting theory that doesn't take everything into account and lacks solid evidence.


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This point really takes into account the "Correlation vs. Causation" effect. It is also a harsh way to look at a drop in crime; abortions may be more common in poverty stricken areas, but major decreases shown can't be just from abortions. I agree that there lacks solid evidence and there is better education and efforts now, but it is also mentioned that this is just a theory.

Though this may be a clever theory, I do not think that it shows significant evidence that there is a correlation between the two. A large amount of other factors weigh into crime rate. Not to mention, this data is only for the 13th district. Because of this, the decrease in violent crimes could also be attributed to a new demographic in that specific district. Maybe a new establishment was built and the neighborhood was 'cleaned up'. All of this simply leads back to the fact that this theory lacks evidence.

Very interesting topic, I really enjoy how you went to outside sources for this blog. I agree that the authors need to look into other possibilities for crime rate and weather legalizing abortions would actually change this number. One of the main aspects damaging their credibility is the fact that weather having an abortion is legal or not, abortions are expensive. Therefore if they legalized abortions, people who were poverty stricken, would still not have enough money to afford this. Also, it is important for them to look at "non-aborted babies" born into a wide range of family backgrounds before stating this correlation.

I have to disagree with this blog entry and agree with the first comment mentioning the "Correlation vs. Causation" effect. I also think this blog entry is full of generalization.

"abortions are more common in poverty stricken and challenged homes the children that would be born are more likely to grow up as criminals."
I don't have the data, so I don't know if this statement is true, but imagine what would happen if abortion is legalized.

more of irresponsible people such as unprepared teenagers would more likely to have an abortion without feeling a thing because it is LEGAL. I believe that abortion devalues human life and existence.

First off abortion is legal so I don't know what you mean by "imagine what would happen". And secondly if you read my entry I didn't say I agreed with the theory, I said it lacked solid evidence and didn't take everything into account. What I was explaining was taken out of a book not my personal views.

Interesting explanation on decrease in crime rates. On one hand, I can see where the authors are coming from - abortions decreased the number of unwanted children in low income families. However, while legal abortion possible have contributed to decrease in crime rates, we cannot say that one caused the other. As you have already discussed, there are too many factors that have not been considered in this finding.

Nice job considering other factors! Perfect case of correlation does not equal causation! A link to further information and reading would help.

You make a very good point about "Correlation vs Causation" in this post. While it is possible that the legalization of abortions influenced crime rates, there just isn't enough evidence to back up the hypothesis. One thing that I don't agree with is the assumptions that the writers make. I'm not sure that abortions are much more prominent in poverty-stricken households. For this to be true, a study about the relationship between the two could be conducted.

I agree that this is a very interesting theory although it definitely lacks the evidence it needs to be proven. It would be interesting to see what other possibilities there are for the decrease in crime rates. I would also be interested to know what the study defined as a "violent crime" and how there results would change if they altered that definition.

This is a very good example of "Correlation vs Causation". There are many other things that could be causing the decrease in crime rates. The fact that they decided to look into just one is very narrow minded if I am sure if they looked into other things that they may correlate just as well. Is there more information to back up their point or is this it? If that is all then they do not have sufficient evidence to claim this in my opinion.

Interesting post! I love the book Freakonomics, it brings up really interesting ideas. This example is a very good representation of "Correlation vs Causation." Although the book leaves out other possible explanations, I do think that this idea could be related to the decrease in crime. When children grow up in families that want and love them, they are far less likely to become criminals.

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This page contains a single entry by dier0131 published on March 25, 2012 10:41 PM.

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