New Research that Abortion Increases Violent Crime Gets Attention
John R. Lott Jr., a former U. of C. economist now teaching in New York, says the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision actually caused violent crime to rise.
Lott and fellow researcher John Whitley plan to publish a paper in October in Economic Inquiry that questions Levitt's research on abortion and crime.
Lott and Levitt already were feuding over Lott's charge that Levitt had defamed him in Freakonomics.
In their new paper, Lott and Whitley say that legalization of abortion prompted a cultural change that increased the number of children born out of wedlock. Those children of unwed mothers caused murders to rise by more than 700 cases in 1998 alone, saddling the public with more than $3.3 billion in "victimization costs," the paper says.
On the other hand, Levitt's research found that Roe v. Wade resulted in a savings of $30 billion a year that crime would have cost the public.
More unwed mothers
His Freakonomics, co-authored by Stephen Dubner and published last year, says legalized abortion led to a large drop in murder and other violent crime in the late 1980s and early '90s, and continues to reduce crime.
The book suggests that if the aborted fetuses had instead been born, they would have become adults more likely to commit crimes because they were unwanted by their mothers.
To illustrate the point, the book says the five states that allowed abortion three years before Roe vs. Wade saw major declines in violent crime between 1988 and 1994 -- earlier than the other states.
But Lott says the Levitt study did not fully consider the increase of children born out of wedlock. His theory is that with the option of abortion, women became more likely to have premarital sex, but then had their babies and raised them as single parents.
Children born out of wedlock have had smaller investments in "human capital" by their parents and are more likely to get into trouble when they grow older, Lott says.
On average, his paper says, about 5 percent of whites were born out of wedlock from 1965 to 1969, rising two decades later to 16 percent. For blacks, the figure rose from about 35 percent to about 62 percent, the paper says.
Before legalized abortion, more than 70 percent of children born out of wedlock ended up in families with a father, but the fraction fell to 44 percent in 1984, according to the paper. . . . .
If you want to read the research, you can find it here. THe newspaper article says that I concede that abortion through its effect on "unwanted" births slightly reduces violent crime, but what I believe that I said is that it is possible. The net effect however is abortion increases violent crime.