Study Says Abortion Lead to Higher Crime, Increased Murder Rates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study Says Abortion Lead to Higher Crime, Increased Murder Rates Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 9,

Washington, DC ( — A 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. The occured because a higher percentage of children grew up in single-parent homes during the years following Roe v. Wade.

The findings have been 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 court’s decision ultimately resulted in more out-of-wedlock births, a reduction in the number of children adopted and fewer married parents.

"Those are contradictory directions," the economist told the Cybercast News Service in an interview. "What ties them together is liberalized abortion rules."

Lott said those results produced by Roe "affected decisions on premarital sex and careful contraception. It’s a matter of economics. When something seems less costly, there’s more of it."

As has previously reported, Lott and John Whitley, affiliated with the University of Chicago, wrote a paper in August 2006 challenging claims that abortion led to less crime.

That paper led to the journal article and subsequent book by Lott.

Because Roe resulted in more children growing up in single-parent homes and because such children are more likely to become criminals than those in two-parent homes, the researchers say abortion led to higher rates of crime.

They point out that 5 percent of white children were born out of wedlock from 1965 to 1969, compared to 16 percent in the 1980’s. Black children born out of wedlock increased from 35 percent to 62 percent in the same period.

These children of unwed mothers, statistically more at risk of becoming criminals, are responsible for the increase of murders by 700 cases in 1998 alone, they say. Such a dramatic increase carried a financial price tag of $3.3 billion in "victimization costs," according to their paper.

Ultimately, Lott says murder rates rose anywhere from half a percent to 7 percent as a result of legalized abortion.

The new study is another among other recent analysis showing the finding of the authors of the 2001 book "Freakonomics" were wrong in contending that abortion led to a decrease in crime.

John Donohue of Stanford Law School and Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago published a study linking a decline in the U.S. violent crime in the 1990s with abortion.

"If the estimates are correct, legalized abortion can explain about half of the recent fall in crime," Donohue and Levitt wrote.

The authors argue that the ready availability of abortion since its legalization in 1973 resulted in fewer unwanted children and therefore less crime in later generations. They cited arrest records to claim that abortion would account for a 1% reduction in crime each year over the next two decades.

Lott says the analysis in the book is wrong because the authors only examined five states that legalized abortion prior to Roe and assumed that no abortions were occurring in the other 45, even though they were done in limited circumstances.

"Some states had a fair number of abortions. Some were more restrictive," he told CNS News. "You can’t assume there was zero before Roe."

Also, 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 Levitt’s 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," the Foote and Goetz say in their report.