Explaining the Declining Crime Rate

Economists Donohue and Levitt (2001) claim that legalizing abortions explains the drop in crime rates, reasoning that legalization allowed women to avoid childbirth until they were in a position to care for their children. The underlying assumption is that unwanted babies growing up with mothers who are not ready to care for them are likely to become violent criminals. This assumption, however, is just an assumption; the authors do not provide evidence to support it. The political spin here is that if there is a relationship between abortions and crime reduction, those who support a woman’s right to choose might argue that restricting access to abortions would have an unintended consequence of increasing future crime rates. Continue reading »