ABORTION AND CRIME: UNWANTED CHILDREN AND OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS

Authors

  • JOHN R. LOTT JR,

    1. Lott: Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC 20036. Phone 1-202-862-4884, E-mail johnrlott@aol.com
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      We thank Mike McKee and an anonymous referee from Economic Inquiry, Alan Sykes, Richard Epstein, Ed Glaeser, Ted Joyce, Teb Marvell, David Murray, Sam Peltzman, Florenz Plassmann, Mark Ramseyer, and Bob Reed as well as participants at the American Law and Economics Association meetings, George Mason University, New York University, SUNY Binghamton, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, and a conference on abortion and crime at the American Enterprise Institute for helpful comments. The Yale Law School’s Center for Law, Economics, and Public Policy provided funding for this research. Unfortunately, at the time that this article was originally written, Donohue and Levitt were unable to provide us with either all their data or their regressions.

  • JOHN WHITLEY

    1. Whitley: Received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Taylor Run, Alexandria VA, 22314.
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    • *

      We thank Mike McKee and an anonymous referee from Economic Inquiry, Alan Sykes, Richard Epstein, Ed Glaeser, Ted Joyce, Teb Marvell, David Murray, Sam Peltzman, Florenz Plassmann, Mark Ramseyer, and Bob Reed as well as participants at the American Law and Economics Association meetings, George Mason University, New York University, SUNY Binghamton, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, and a conference on abortion and crime at the American Enterprise Institute for helpful comments. The Yale Law School’s Center for Law, Economics, and Public Policy provided funding for this research. Unfortunately, at the time that this article was originally written, Donohue and Levitt were unable to provide us with either all their data or their regressions.


Abstract

Legalizing abortion can either increase or decrease investments in children’s human capital. This article finds that abortion increases the number of out-of-wedlock births. Using data that more directly links the criminal with age when the crime was committed, not age when arrested, and fixing the assumption in previous research that no abortions took place prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in the 45 states affected by that decision, we find consistent significant evidence that legalizing abortions increased murders by over 7%. Linear estimates indicate that legalization increased total annual victimization costs by at least $3.2 billion. (JEL K42, K14, J24)

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