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The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime

67 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 1999  

John J. Donohue III

Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2000

Abstract

We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed significantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization. The 5 states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.

JEL Classification: J11, J13

Suggested Citation

Donohue, John J. and Levitt, Steven D., The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (2000). Quarterly Journal of Economics. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=174508 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.174508

John J. Donohue III (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Steven D. Levitt

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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American Bar Foundation

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University of Chicago ( email )

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