elb's hovel of thoughts

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Abortion link with crime?

I had just finished reading a book on economics. Not just any book though, this one was entitled 'Freakonomics'. Why freakonomics? Because the person behind the book sees economics differently. For example, what do a teacher and a sumo wrestler have in common?

Does it sound absurd? One would think so, except that this book won the Quill Prize, the book was recommended by Wall Street Journal, and so on. And the man behind the book, Steven Lewitt (of University of Chicago) has won the John Bates Clark Medal (given to the best economist under the age of 40 every 2 years), et cetera.

But what I found most interesting about his book was a section which dealt with the following statement: that abortion accounted for the sharp decrease in crime in the USA in the 1990s, completely the reverse of projected scenarios where crime was predicted to spiral upwards.

I shan't go into great detail, because I'm not supposed to (you're supposed to buy the damn book!), but he basically states the following points:

1) Abortion was legalized in the 1970s (I'm too lazy to look it up!)
2) Women who felt they could not afford to have a child (usually from poor areas etc) aborted their children
3) Crime was predicted to increase dramatically in the 1990s
4) A generation of would-be criminals have vanished (i.e. the aborted children were supposed to have filled in the gap)

Plus, he presents research to back up his claims. Previously before this no one has attributed a fall in crime rate to abortion, believing instead that better policies etc have done the trick. Also, perhaps now some people can now see from a previously unknown angle that God used no-good into a good purpose?

Anyhow, Freakonomics retails for 20GBP. Its a bit short on thickness for the price(but not quality!), and be prepared to see some things differently!


  • thanks for the suggestion... i love such books - where weird meets science and science meets unbelivable...

    By Blogger Nilesh Babu Patel, at Thursday, November 03, 2005 12:53:00 am  

  • it's nothing new. And its not just him that believe that. A lot of economics do realize the connection between legalization of abortion and falling crime rate in the 90s. it's a simple positive externality.

    anyway, it has nothing to do with god.

    And, heh, the author has a blog at http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/

    By Blogger __earth, at Thursday, November 03, 2005 1:25:00 am  

  • nilesh: so do I, 'junk' they might be to some :p

    earth: well a lot of economists quickly jumped to conclusions like 'better policing' etc etc without thinking back to something potentially unlikely as abortion for a time.

    I was referring to a Christian belief that 'God uses evil for His purposes'. As you should know, in the eyes of pro-life people, abortion is murder. I'm not advocating abortion, but neither do I rule it out as a no-other-way-out solution at times.

    By Blogger elb, at Thursday, November 03, 2005 1:48:00 am  

  • erm, isn't it kind of logical? less people = less criminals, assuming that the birth rate remained the same over the years.

    But it sounds like a damn interesting book though. always nice to 'ooh' and 'ahhh' at stuff you never thought possible :)

    By Anonymous entwined, at Thursday, November 03, 2005 8:18:00 pm  

  • entwined: having a (logical)correlation is not sufficient to prove something. its like saying that having more books as a child makes you smarter (the real cause is because the parents are more likely to be higher educated and place a higher importance on education, hence more books).

    Simply put, to say A has a direct impact on B, you need to demonstrate that the removal of A has a direct effect onto B, and that the reintroduction of A would cause B to bounce up (or down) to the expected levels.

    By Blogger elb, at Friday, November 04, 2005 3:30:00 pm  

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