Some people have said that Levitt's abortion/crime rate theory is racist, but I fail to see how this is. People of other races, ethnic groups, etc, commit crimes as well. If anything it is biased against the lower socieconomic classes, but I will not get into that. I don't recall who said something along the lines of "ending poverty will end crime". This is not true for human nature will always tempt people to cheat or steal to better themselves or those they love. I agree that there are many factors that influence crime besides abortion. Perhaps, ensuring that all children get good educations and have activities to get or keep them off the streets than they will be less likely to engage in crime. People who have hope don't join gangs.
It seems deadman, that you are not arguing against Levitt's hypothesis so much as you are arguing against statistics itself. Yes, we are all familiar with the fact that correlation does not prove causation. This is old news. The fact is that if after controlling for all the variables you can think of (as any decent economist would) you find that two things are still related (abortion and crime) then you have to accept what the evidence shows as being science's best guess. Throwing your hands up in the air and explaining "well, everything's a theory" when some scientific fact is inconvenient (be it evolution or this) is scientific relativism of the worst sort.
I have 3 statistical questions regarding the Abortion Regression.(1) You say in the book that preganancies rose 30% post Roe v. Wade, but births declined 6%. Implying that Abortion is replacing other forms of Birth Control to a large extent. So states with High v. Low abortion rates may not be relevant. A state with a 36% abortion rate could be roughly equivalent to a state with a 6% abortion rate if they did not see the +30% increase. Should you look at (normalized) birth rates not abortions?(2) How are you measuring Crack in the regression? You say in the book that it isn't users it is dealers who commit the crimes. Therfore the relevant measure should not be useage but marginal gain for marginal turf gain. The crash in price is relevant not the level of use.(3) The logic of your paper argues that unwantedness leads to crime. The proxy for this in the bast is children in poverty and single-parent households. I would suggest using a variable for births into poverty and births to unmarried mothers as variables in your regression, so that you can isolate the degree of unwantedness attributeable to abortions. One of Sailer's key criticisms is that post roe v wade abortions possibly led to higher rates of "illegitimacy". So why not include that as a variable? Thanks,Jeff
If you actually read the book, I think levitt makes a very strong moral and economic arguement against abortion despite the initial knee jerk reaction to his findings. Levitt should be comended for his willingness to report the truth, no matter how disturbing some people may find it.
The person who wrote that concealed weapons laws reduced crime was John Lott. To see a paper challenging Lott's position, see Duggan (JPE) or a more recent working paper by Phillips (NBER, 2005)As for abortion. Has anyone done this study for England?
Estimates of the problem's magnitude have been made from data provided by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which suggest that genetic factors are involved in one fifth of infant deaths, one fourth of the institutionalized mental retardates, almost one half of individuals with IQs less than fifty, and half of first trimester abortions (Finley 1982)....
It is made up of live cells, it is growing and processing energy, it has the capacity to mature and reproduce, it has a genetic system and so on. Will an abortion destroy this form of life?
Now let’s talk about John Lott for a minute. Along with John Whitley, he wrote a paper on abortion and crime. It is so loaded with inaccurate claims, errors and statistical mistakes that I hate to even provide a link to it, but for the sake of completeness you can find it . Virtually nothing in this paper is correct, and it is no coincidence that four years later it remains unpublished. In a letter to the editor at Wall Street Journal, Lott claims that our results are driven by the particular measure of abortions that we used in the first paper. I guess he never bothered to read our in which we show in Table 1 that the results are nearly identical when we use his preferred data source. It is understandable that he could make this argument five years ago, but why would he persist in making it in 2005 when it has been definitively shown to be false? (I’ll let you put on your Freakonomics-thinking-hat and figure out the answer to that last question.) As Lott and Whitley are by now well aware, the statistical results they get in that paper are an artifact of some bizarre choices they made and any reasonable treatment of the data returns our initial results. (Even Ted Joyce, our critic, acknowledges that the basic patterns in the data we report are there, which Lott and Whitley were trying to challenge.)
2) Did the decline in crack lead to a “boomerang” effect in which crime actually fell by more than it had risen with the arrival of crack? Unfortunately for your story, the empirical evidence overwhelmingly rejects this claim. Using specifications similar to those in our paper, we find that the states with the biggest increases in murder over the rising crack years (1985-91) did see murder rates fall faster between 1991 and 1997. But for every 10 percent that murder rose between 1985 and 1991, it fell by only 2.6 percent between 1991 and 1997. For your story to explain the decline in crime that we attribute to legalized abortion, this estimate would have to be about five times bigger. Moreover, for violent crime and property crime, increases in these crimes over the period 1985-91 are actually associated with increases in the period 1991-97 as well. In other words, for crimes other than murder, the impact of crack is not even in the right direction for your story.
Author/activist Carol Van Strum, who compiled most of the Poison Papers, notes: “This document was the linchpin of my book, A, documenting the government’s acceptance of phony industry studies while dismissing reports of human illness, death, involuntary abortions, birth defects, and other effects of pesticide exposure.”
Rates of abortions have changed little between 2003 and 2008, after having previously spent decades declining as access to education regarding family planning and birth control improved.
The Texas law, which became unconstitutional today, demanded abortion clinics to meet hospital-like surgical standards and that their patients have admitting privileges to be transferred to hospitals within 48 kilometers away if necessary.