April 26, 2014

"Does Abortion Prevent Crime?" Steve Sailer's 2nd response to Steven D. Levitt in 1999 Slate debate

Below is the fourth and final part of a 1999 debate in Slate between U. of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt, co-author of the 2005 bestseller Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, and myself, Steve Sailer. We discussed Levitt's most celebrated theory: Did the legalization of abortion in 1969-1973 cause the crime rate to fall? 

I've decided to host this debate on my website because it is of some modest degree of historical importance as the first airing of one of the longer-running social science controversies of the 21st Century, and because Slate deleted our names from their posting of it during a website reorganization. Several years ago, Slate promised to restore our names, but hasn't done so yet. The absence of our names on Slate has made it hard for interested readers to find this using search engines.

AUG. 25 1999 3:30 AM

Does Abortion Prevent Crime?

To read more on this topic, see Steve Sailer's 2005 posting after The Economist and the Wall Street Journal revealed that an attempted replication of Levitt's state-level analysis by Boston Fed economists Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz discovered that Levitt had made a fatal error in his computer code, which explains why Levitt's state-level findings didn't match my national-level analysis in 1999.
Complete debate: Part 1 (Levitt);   Part 2 (Sailer);   Part 3 (Levitt);   Part 4 (Sailer)


Anonymous said...

Steve, can you reformat this in plain text, please? It looks like crap.

Anonymous said...

And what if the legalization of abortion gave them an excuse to be even less careful about avoiding pregnancy?

Here's an interesting wikipedia page relating to this, risk compenstation:

"Risk compensation is a theory which suggests that people typically adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk, becoming more careful where they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel more protected. ...

...it has been observed that motorists drove faster when wearing seatbelts...

...There is also evidence that the risk compensation phenomenon could explain the failure of condom distribution programs to reverse HIV prevalence and that condoms may foster disinhibition, with people engaging in risky sex both with and without condoms. ...

The theory emerged from road safety research after it was observed that many interventions failed to achieve the expected level of benefits but has since found application in many other fields. ...

...The reduction of predicted benefit from regulations that intend to increase safety is sometimes referred to as the Peltzman effect..."