May 20, 2005

Gullible Skeptic:

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine, provides in the Los Angeles Times another example of Google-free reviewing of Freakonomics:

Levitt's most controversial computation involves the dramatic 1990s drop in crime rates. The reason, he says, is not tougher gun control laws, capital punishment, decreasing unemployment or a stronger economy. It is Roe vs. Wade. Research shows that children from impoverished and adverse environments are more likely to become criminals. After the 1973 court decision made legal abortions possible, millions of poor, single women aborted unwanted fetuses; 20 years later, the pool of potential criminals had shrunk, as did the crime rate. (The solution isn't more abortions, he says, but "better environments for those children at greatest risk for future crime.")

Of course, correlation does not always mean causation, and explaining the causes of crime is a complex, multivariate problem. But Levitt also shows that the five states that legalized abortion two years before Roe vs. Wade saw a drop in crime earlier than the other states. Further, those states with the highest abortion rates in the 1970s experienced the greatest drop in crime in the 1990s, and the entire decline in crime was among the age group born after 1973, not among older groups.

It's amazing how many reviewers don't bother even typing "abortion crime" into Google.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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