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

21 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2007

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

US Department of Justice

John E Whitley

Crime Prevention Research Center; Institute for Defense Analyses

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Legalizing abortion can either increase or decrease investments in childrens 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.

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R. and Whitley, John E, Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 304-324, April 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=969508 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2006.00040.x

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

US Department of Justice ( email )

Washington, DC 20531
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

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