June 7, 2005
I started reading Freaknomics by Steve Levitt a couple days back. Levitt uses his economics background as a starting point to try and answer questions about society. He describes things in terms of incentives and talks about how incentives drive our society. I'm only a couple chapters into it but it's been pretty interesting so far.
One of the first things he brings up is the drop in violent crime in the late 1990's. He points out that crime had risen dramatically in the early 1990's and all of the "experts" were saying the trend would continue. However, violent crime actually decreased significantly. While the media and government pointed to things like better police officers and a strong economy, Levitt points out that those are very unlikely causes for such a sudden drop in crime. He instead attributes the drop in violent crime to a drop in the number of violent criminals caused by legalized abortions, dating back to Roe v. Wade. He says that the majority of abortions are for women who would have raised the child in a setting that increased their risk of becoming a criminal (lower-income, single parent, etc..) Since these individuals are more likely to become violent criminals, Levitt says that because of the legalized abortions those people who would've been more likely to become criminals were never born. Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the mid to late nineties would have corresponded to those individual's height as far as risk for becoming a criminal.
This seems to make a lot of sense. I don't think it's correct to say that any one thing caused a nation-wide drop in crime like that, but this is certainly a cause that I've never heard mentioned. I think that if this book becomes popular, it will be interesting to see if pro-abortion groups adopt that as another reason they want to keep abortion legalized. I doubt the main groups will use it because it directly says that abortions are most often for lower class individuals but it will be interesting.
Another thing that cropped up in my mind is that if this really is the case, I'm not surprised we've (at least I've) never heard much about this as a possible cause in public arenas. It seems so nice to say that the good economy and better police caused the drop in crime, but what if it was something as controversial and divisive as legalized abortion? I just think that, in general, when things go right at a national level, what the official government statement says they were caused by are almost always the most pleasent cause, at least emotionally?
One question that's always irked me: Are we fed that much sugar-coated bullshit or are all the conspiracy theorists getting to me?