Research shows: Abortion increases crime rate

Research shows: Abortion increases crime rate

For those of you who followed the Steve Leavitt debate a few years ago on his theory that legal abortion lowered crime rates, we’ve got a study, albeit a few years late, to enlighten the debate.

For those of you unfamiliar with what we are talking about, here is a little background first:

In 2005, economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner released the hugely popular nonfiction book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. In it, Levitt presented his economic theory that legalizing abortion had cut crime rates.

He reasoned that abortion reduces the number of unwanted children, thus reducing the number of unhappy children, and as a result lowering crime rates. He supported this hypothesis with impressive statistical calculations and graphs.

The theory quickly became political fodder for both sides of the abortion debate, but it quickly became clear that the theory and the statistics supporting it didn’t hold water. Those critical of the theory began to identify some major holes in Levitt’s calculations and assumptions. Steve Sailer, one of the theory’s chief opponents, provides a clear history of this debate here, if you want the full story.

Flash forward a few years and a new study is here to enter the debate and prove the exact opposite of Levitt’s theory. This study by John R. Lott Jr. and John Whitley of the American Enterprise Institute shows that not only did abortion not decrease crime rates, but it actually increased murder rates by 7 percent in the U.S.

By improving upon the methods used by Levitt, Lott and Whitley illustrated “a strong consistent positive relationship between  abortion and murder.” More simply said, they found that when abortion increases, murder increases as well. According to their estimates, the legalization of abortion resulted in about 700 more murders per year by 1998—a 7.2 percent increase.

How do Lott and Whitley explain their correlation?

Where Levitt assumed abortion would decrease the number of unwanted children and therefore reduce crime, Lott and Whitley demonstrated that the legalization of abortion actually increased the number of children born to unwed mothers.

Combine this with the fact that young males born out-of-wedlock (wanted or not) are disproportionately responsible for violent crimes, and you have a national increase in murders. “[T]he net effect [of the legalization of abortion],” Lott and Whitely concluded, “appears to be a reduction in human capital and an increase in crime.”

This correlation surely does not make abortion any more reprehensible than it already is, but it definitely shoots down the argument that legal abortion improves outcomes for those children who do survive.

  • K
    Posted at 14:30h, 03 May

    I believe what you believe in regards to abortion but this research doesn’t sound too credible. It sounds about as credible as the first study. Some pretty hard conclusions and correlations to actually prove. I’d love to see some of this stuff studied in a more conclusive way.

  • am
    Posted at 07:01h, 05 May

    I had a son out of wedlock and was encouraged to have an abortion which I did not end up doing, ( I am very thankful to God for this as it was a very scary and challenging time) I married the father of this child, we are still together many years later, my son if the theory is correct should be in jail. He is not, he is currently a teacher who has been highly commended by his peers. As for the crime rate being lowered, abortion is the crime that has increased 10 fold so in fact the crime rate has increased dramatically as millions of young lives are snuffed out each year

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