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.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Lott, John and Whitley, John, "Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births" (2001). John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Papers. Paper 254.