I’ve been reading the book Freakonomics and while I’m not sure that I agree with all of (statistician) Levitt’s conclusions, they are most definitely interesting. One of his most controversial is this (summarizing rather than quoting):
Statisticians and other experts predicted a huge serge in the violent crime rate beginning in the mid 1990s based upon past trends and the population explosion.
Not only did the crime rate not go up significantly, it actually DEcreased significantly (particularly among teens and in some other demographics). Most experts attributed this decline to economic prosperity and slightly higher per-capita educational attainment.
Levitt attributes it to Roe v. Wade in an argument that, simply put, goes like this:
-The women most likely to have abortions are unwed low-income women who, obviously, do not want the child they are carrying
-The children most likely to become criminals are those born to unwed, low-income women who do not want the child in the first place
With the legalization of abortion, therefore, the ranks of the “most likely to become violent criminals” class were decimated, thus inspiring a decrease in crime.
(Before attacking the argument as “reeks of eugenics”, etc., please remember- it’s not my argument.)
Do you believe that this thesis has any validity? Why or why not?