In, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,” Steven Levitt and John Donohue further argue the same phenomenon that Levitt argues in chapter 4 of Freakonomics. Through statistics they present a causal argument that because the mothers who are having the abortions are unfit for parenting, for a variety of reasons, would have given birth to a child that had a high probability of becoming a criminal. The authors provide data and regressions in their article to show the grounding of the abortion theory. They mention other factors that decrease crime rates but do not believe they would cause a sharp reduction in crime. In Chapter 4 Levitt compares and analyze other theories of crime reduction to show that the abortion theory has the most significant impact.
Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz argue the validity of Levitt’s hypothesis about increased rates of abortion as a potential cause for reduced crime rates. They find errors in Levitt’s data as well as his regression that are skewing the relationship. Specifically, they find that using the method of cross-state rather than within-state comparisons of crime data caused a misrepresentation of the facts. They also believe that a per-capita variable for crime rates instead of the total arrests variable that they used would have lessened the statistical significance on the relationship with abortion.
These two articles are closely related to what we read in Freakonomics and bring up an interesting theory, regardless of its validity. Even though Foote and Goetz argue the accuracy of Levitt’s findings, it still could have some power in telling the story of crime reduction.