New Study Further Disproves Freakonomics Abortion-Crime Reduction Theory
by Steven Ertelt
December 31, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new study offer more reasons for doubting the Freakonomics theory put forward by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt that claims legalizing abortion reduced crime. The study shows a large rise in homicides by black teens in recent years even though black women have the highest abortion rate.
Respected criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University has released a new study showing 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 Fox’s study shows violent crime in the black community has gone up in the last decade — not down.
"Yes, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in 1990, but it is worse than it was in 2000," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Yet, if Levitt’s hypothesis is true, crime should have gone down significantly in the black community because of a higher abortion rate.
A report in September from the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute finds abortions are more likely to be done on women who are African-American.
Many Americans will welcome the news that there are fewer abortions, particularly among teens," says Sharon Camp, the president of the research group. "But at the same time, abortions are becoming more concentrated among women of color and low-income women."
Between 1994 and 2004, the abortion rate for Hispanic women fell by 20% and there was a 30% decline among non-Hispanic white women. But black women saw the lowest decline — at 15 percent during the same time period.
Black women account for 37% of abortions, white women for 34%, Hispanic women 22% and women of other races 8%.
With Fox showing that the violent crimes are lowering among white teenagers and rising among black teenagers, the data appears to be another proof against the Freakonomics abortion-crime theory.
But the Fox study isn’t the first to cast doubts on it.
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 court’s 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 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," Foote and Goetz say in their report.
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