Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births

46 Pages Posted: 16 May 2001  

John R. Lott Jr.

Crime Prevention Research Center

John E Whitley

Crime Prevention Research Center; Institute for Defense Analyses

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 30, 2001

Abstract

Abortion may prevent the birth of "unwanted" children, who would have relatively small investments in human capital and a higher probability of crime. On the other hand, some research suggests that legalizing abortion increases out-of-wedlock births and single parent families, which implies the opposite impact on investments in human capital and thus crime. The question is: what is the net impact? We find evidence that legalizing abortion increased murder rates by around about 0.5 to 7 percent. Previous estimates are shown to suffer from not directly linking the cohorts who are committing crime with whether they had been born before or after abortion was legal.

JEL Classification: K4, D13, H11

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R. and Whitley, John E, Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births (April 30, 2001). Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 254. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=270126 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.270126

John R. Lott Jr. (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

DC
United States

John E Whitley

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 3234
Alexandria, VA
United States

Institute for Defense Analyses ( email )

4850 Mark Center Dr
Alexandria, VA 22311
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ida.org

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