Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Miracle That Wasn't

Another interesting idea from John Tierney. He reports a discussion between Malcolm Gladwell and Steven Levitt (pictured). This is Levitt's idea.
[T]he single most important cause [for the reduction in crime in the 90's] was an event two decades earlier: the legalization of abortion in New York State in 1970, three years before it was legalized nationally by the Supreme Court.

The result, [Levitt] maintains, was a huge reduction in the number of children who would have been at greater than average risk of becoming criminals during the 1990's. Growing up as an unwanted child is itself a risk factor, he says, and the women who had abortions were disproportionately likely to be unmarried teenagers with low incomes and poor education — factors that also increase the risk.

It's a theory that doesn't sit well with either liberals or conservatives, and Professor Levitt hastens to add that the reduction in crime is not an argument for encouraging abortion — he personally has mixed feelings on whether abortion should be legal. But he says the correlations are clear: crime declined earlier in the states that had legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade, and it declined more in places with high abortion rates, like New York.
See also Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce.

1 comment:

rweber said...

This correlation should be self- evident. Given that most families in contemporary US society are disfunctional, prevention of bringing more potential delinquints & deviants into the world should be the "default condition." A true "conservative" wishing to maintain some quality standard of life on the planet should insist on some form of license be granted based on qualifications to be a parent (say by the courts as the least corrupt branch of our government), before legal child birth were to be possible. In the spirit of full disclosure I should remark that I have never commited parenthood.