Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births
John R. Lott Jr.
Crime Prevention Research Center
John E Whitley
Crime Prevention Research Center; Institute for Defense Analyses
April 30, 2001
Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 254
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46
JEL Classification: K4, D13, H11
Date posted: May 16, 2001