Cause and Effect

Here in NYC, Rudy Guiliani is a hero because he got crime under control through a combination of increases in police on the street and computer driven policing strategies.  During his tenure as Mayor, from 1994 to 2002, crime rates in the city dropped by a huge amount leading to improved quality of life and an economic rebound.

Now Steven Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, has put forth a new theory on this massive reduction in crime that NYC and the rest of urban america has experienced in the past 10 years.

Levitt has done extensive research on the link between the legalization of abortion and the sweeping reduction in crime rates in urban america 15 to 20 years later.  Levitt’s research suggests a statisticly significant link between the legalization of abortion and the subsequent reduction in urban crime rates.

On the surface, this explanation makes so much sense that I have to wonder why nobody posited it until now.  Unwanted, unloved, and uncared for children are so much more likely to turn to a life of crime than wanted, loved, and cared for children.  And like it or not, legalized abortion has resulted in a lot less unwanted children over the past 20 years.

Clearly more research is needed to substantiate this link.  But my gut says there is something to this analysis.

And I don’t think the answer is to make abortion more prevalent in our society.  But clearly criminalizing abortion isn’t the answer either.  I think we need to understand that unwanted children are not good for our society and we need a rational (ie secular) debate on this issue that leads to pragamatic solutions to the issue of unwanted children.