Impact of legalized abortion on crime
Give a 3 minute summary of the paper. What is the hypothesis of the paper?
1. Give an overview of the history of legalized abortion in the United States. Who is most likely to have an abortion? How many abortions are performed each year?
2. What happened to the abortion rate post Roe v. Wade? Did pregnancy rates change? How can we tell? Use moral hazard to explain why abortion rates might rise after legalization.
3. What is the mechanism by which abortion lowers crime? Be sure to discuss both smaller cohorts and changing cohorts.
4. What is the effective abortion rate? Why is this figure used and not total abortions? When will effective abortions equal total abortions?
5. Use Figures 2 and 3 to discuss crime trends in the US. What caused the increase in crime in the 1980’s? What year should Roe v. Wage begin affecting the crime rate?
6. Controlling for other effects—how does looking at early legalizers allow the authors to isolate abortion as the causal factor in the reduction in crime rates? What else could have happened in 1973 that reduced crime?
7. What is the main econometric conclusion of the paper? Are there any public policy implications from this conclusion? Note: Levitt and Donohue are very careful to draw no such conclusions from their work but we will (very politely) discuss your ideas in class.