Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Sticky Wicket.

I heard something bizarre in class yesterday and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree. I assume it is a true statement, since it was said by people who get paid good money to figure this stuff out.
And by "true" I mean "the numbers can prove it."

We watched a report about how the crime rate in major cities fell between 1976 & 1996. Mayor Rudy Giuliani took credit for the drop in the crime rate because he started cracking down on minor crimes. President Clinton took credit because he made way for cities to hire more police officers. The mayor of Los Angeles took credit because of the implementation of the "Three Strikes and You're Out" law.

But supposedly, according to several people who have looked at the numbers, the reason the crime rate has gone down (and is still continuing that downward trend) is because abortion was legalized.

There is a direct correlation between crime & unwanted children not being born.

I don't have the numbers readily available, but it's true, I guess.

Some people think that relating abortion to the crime rate is racist. I think it's more classist, but that's besides the point. Lower income families are not the only people who have children who grow up to be criminals. There are PLENTY of sociopaths who come from "well to do" families. And poor families are not the only people who would have unwanted children.


I don't want to get into the Abortion-Is-Murder debate. But could it be true that because abortion is legal, and because unwanted pregnancies were ended, that THAT is why there is less crime?
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  1. I think it was Mark Twain who said, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." Just because abortion went up & crime went down does not mean that the two are related. I remember hearing somewhere that the crime rate in question went down because (at least according to someone's speculation) of the fact that the baby boomers were aging out of their mischief-making years. I suppose someone could say that there hasn't been another baby boom because of abortion, but that would be a stretch. The birth rate started to go down years before abortion was legalized.

  2. It's from Freakonomics which makes a VERY strong argument that the two are linked. It's an illustration of their "unintended consequences" model.

  3. Oh. I read SuperFreakonomics, and loved it. Those guys stand conventional wisdom on it's head in a very impressive way.