Thursday, 10 October 2013

Crime-Reduction/Abortion/Freakonomics: A Quick Rebuttal Of A Rebuttal

After my last Blog on the causal link between crime reduction and abortion posited in Freakonomics, someone sent me a link to an article by Steven Ertelt from LifeNews, in which he claims criminologist James Alan Fox has refuted the causal link (see here to read the attempted refutation in full).  There's so much wrong with the article that it's beyond ill-conceived. The attempted refutation can be boiled down to three principal statements, on which I'll comment below.

1) The study found homicides by blacks between the ages of 14 and 17 have jumped 34 percent from 2000 through 2007. If the unborn aborted babies would have been more likely to be future criminals then crime in the black community should have gone down not up.

MY COMMENT: Clearly this needn't be the case. I can conceive of a situation whereby abortions increase while at the same time an overall crime increase occurs in a certain sample space, where the abortion effect engenders a damage limitation effect with its reductions. If more black babies are being aborted yet twice as many more are being born or twice as many are getting involved in gangs then there is no inconsistency.

2) Nearly 60% of the decline in murder since 1990 involved perpetrators ages 25 and older-individuals who would have been born prior to the landmark abortion decision.

MY COMMENT: This statement literally doesn't make any sense. Declines in crime can't by definition 'involve perpetrators' - a crime declension simply refers to fewer recorded incidents. There are obviously no perpetrators in those crimes that weren't committed. The 60% reduction probably refers to the natural tailing off period, where people in older age groups (like late twenties and beyond) grow out of those bad habits, and after which obviously statistically commit fewer crimes. Here's what else is wrong with it - a growing up of a certain generation of people into the age at which they commit fewer crimes will be offset by a growing up of a certain generation of people into the age at which they commit more crimes, so one would cancel out the other, unless, as Freakonomics suggests, those would-be younger ones were no longer being born at such a rate. The above 60% argument doesn't refute the legalisation of abortion theory - it is perfectly consistent with it.

3) The abortion-crime link also cannot account for the transient surge in youth homicide during the late 1980s, if not for which the 1990s would not have witnessed such a sizable decline.

MY COMMENT: This is a spurious contention too - the abortion-crime link makes no claim to account for the transient surge in youth homicide during the late 1980s - it merely claims to have put a halt on continually increasing crime rates that seemingly would have escalated into the 90's, were it not for the sudden drop. Again, no inconsistency there.

Nothing we've seen in the article has gone any way to challenge the hypothesis put forward in Freakonomics - and one might be entitled to expect better from a criminologist.  The logic still stands; if a great many of the aborted youths would have been highly likely to commit crimes, and increased abortion in those communities did occur, then by definition there will be a reduction in crime in that area of study.

* Photo courtesy of 

No comments:

Post a Comment