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Legalized abortion and crime rates

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 06:28 pm
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I picked up a copy of Freakonomics the other day based on the advice of a friend.

The book certainly starts off with a bang -- citing Roe v. Wade as the reason that crime rates have been dropping.

The book argues that in the early 90s predictions were that we were headed for massive crime. When it didn't happen, when the crime rate instead dropped dramatically, the spin was that the good economy, gun control laws, and innovative policing were the reasons. The author says that what really happened was that 20 years earlier women in cisis situations were able to get safe, legal and inexpensive abortions -- the "criminal element" simply wasn't born.

That's kind of an interesting take on things.

I remember reading something a while back saying that the drop in the crime rate didn't really happen, that what changed is the way that crimes are classified and counted. I wish I could remember the article better because I remember it being pretty persuasive with all of it's 8x10 color, glossy graphs with a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it is.

What do you think?

By making abortion less available and less acceptable are we setting ourselves up for the next crime wave?

Let's pretend the author is correct.... if you are anti-abortion would his argument change your mind? Would you maybe begin to consider abortion as just an early death penalty?

I'm just thinking aloud (quietly typing) and inviting you to think aloud (please, no yelling) along with me.
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 3,690 • Replies: 21

 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 06:39 pm
@boomerang,
There have been a couple of politicians who have said this publicly and been crushed, but I think a lot of people who study crime stats agree with the premise. A reduction in unwanted births to the poor results in fewer unwanted children raised in poor conditions results in less crime.
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 06:49 pm
It makes sense and bears out statistically. But there are those factions out there who don't want to hear facts so we should keep our opinions to ourselves.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 08:09 pm
Maybe I was the only person surprised by this idea.

It does seem kind of mean, but at the same time, true. Even if you ignore poverty/lifestyle/whatever it still seems that the kids with the best shot in life are the ones that are wanted.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 08:20 pm
@boomerang,
Also, the rich already had access to abortions prior to Roe v Wade because they could easily cross state lines to states that allowed abortion. Roe v Wade really only directly helped the poor.
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panzade
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 08:37 pm
the flip side-http://www.beliefnet.com/News/2005/06/Where-Have-All-The-Criminals-Gone.aspx
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 07:21 am
Thanks for the link, panzade. I just started reading it but it looks fascinating.
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Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 11:18 am
@boomerang,
Freakanomics provided a nice easy reading version of the study, but if you want to examine the theory in detail you can read the study here:

The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime

I think that birth control in general has a huge impact on society in many ways. Not just in keeping unwanted children from leading often miserable lives, but also by just reducing the spread of resources among the poor.

Consider these two scenarios, both with "wanted" children but differences in volume:

1) Parents have eight kids. They can't provide them with significant investment into their futures. Kids can stay around with the parents till they get married. When the parents age the expectation is that some of the kids will take care of them.

2) Parents have two kids. They save more money allowing them to better take care of their own retirement, and possibly even invest in their kids' education.

In both scenarios the case isn't so much "unwanted" as planned and limited versus unplanned and unlimited. There is still a significant difference, in one a financial burden is passed along generations, helping to keep them poorer. In the other each generation is given a head start on their futures and have better chances of not being poor.

I'd say that poverty correlates with crime more than anything else (including abuse, neglect etc) and even aside from the "unwanted" angle just having fewer kids means less poverty.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 12:05 pm
That's a very good point, Robert. I think I'm kind of blinded to the poverty angle since we grew up poor and there isn't (currently) a criminal in the family.

I don't think that we knew we were poor, though. I don't remember thinking we were poor.

I'll download that article and give it a read. Thanks for the link.

Panzade, the article you linked was written by the Freakonomics guys but went into in more detail. Interesting!
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 12:17 pm
It won't let me download that article because I'm not a member. Sad
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 12:31 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
That's a very good point, Robert. I think I'm kind of blinded to the poverty angle since we grew up poor and there isn't (currently) a criminal in the family.

I don't think that we knew we were poor, though. I don't remember thinking we were poor.


There's a lot of different kinds of poor. Some poor you can't help but notice (e.g. when you don't have anything to eat or anywhere to live) while others aren't as big of an impact (e.g. when you just aren't as rich as the average but aren't envious enough to sweat it).

As you can probably imagine, the lower you are on Maslow's hierarchy of needs the more likely you are to engage in risky and criminal behavior. If you get down to the base physiological needs just about anyone can become a criminal in the right setting.

It sounds like your family wasn't poor enough to lack physiological needs or safety, and well-rounded enough not to lack emotional needs like love and esteem. However if a family lacks either of those I think they'd be much more likely to engage in destructive behavior and I think birth control affects both kinds of needs. Lack of it can mean that the children have a lot less in way of material and emotional support.

In the worst of cases (not common in the US) it means the kids are on the streets fighting for their lives as soon as they can walk. Seeing the life of the street urchins in some countries was what changed my mind about abortion. The abject misery they were subject to was mind-numbing and senseless and family planning is something that improves that situation dramatically. I began to see it as much more cruel for some folks to have their kids than to prevent their conception or even their birth.

I've come to see birth rate as a significant signal for many societal ills. Having gobs of babies rarely correlates to positive social factors.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 12:35 pm
@boomerang,
I'm not a member, but I just downloaded it again. I clicked the "download" link then selected one of the locations and got the pdf right away.

Edit: now the site's not loading for me at all. PM me if you want it by email.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 01:12 pm
True, we almost always had a roof over or heads and food on the table.

I'm a huge supporter of sex education and contraception and a big supporter of the right to access abortion. I was 13 when Roe v. Wade passed so I reached sexual maturity when abortion was available. I never really gave it a lot of thought, though, until Mo's other mom got pregnant with Mo. To her, and most of the people her age (19 in 2000), abortion was really unthinkable. More young girls today decide to at least attempt to parent than they did when I was young.

I'm also trying to reconcile this whole crime v. abortion against some reading I've been doing about what is commonly called the BSE, the baby scoop ear, defined as the years between WW2 and Roe v. Wade.

During those years girls from middle class white families fueled a mulit-million, probably billion, dollar adoption industry.

I'll have to try to find them again but I've read studies showing that the prison populations of white people tilts towards adoptees.

Again with the thinking out loud.....
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 05:29 pm
@boomerang,
Interesting.

Problem is that what we see is that the people why most ought to be careful and thoughtful about having children (ie least capable of parenting) tend to get pregnant at fifteen or so, and keep having kids to different, anti-social and/or violent men, from generation unto generation. But one supposed this must be diminishing, despite its apparent proliferation from where I sit!

Research is starting to be able to pull out what the particular risk factors are that go along with poverty and lead to crime...but it's early days (apart from the obvious Maslow stuff that Robert pointed out.)

Here's an interesting one. It was American research, I believe. Poor mothers tended to believe that understanding and responding to a baby's emotional state was unimportant, as compared with mothers from a wealthier background.

The white adoptees in prison thing you mentioned is interesting.....from memory, adoptees across the board have a greater tendency to be troubled than non-adoptees from the same family/social strata....but generally do better than kids who remain with unstable single mums.

We are seeing a lot of the kids resulting from the drying up of Australian babies up for adoption, and the resultant overseas adoptions of older, and often very traumatised kids from other countries.

Early adoptive parents who did this often had NO idea what they might be up for, but they seem to be better prepared these days.

But I am digressing the hell all over the place and way off topic.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 05:39 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
I'll have to try to find them again but I've read studies showing that the prison populations of white people tilts towards adoptees.


I remember this from "sociology of adoptive kinship" back in the late 1970's (trying to remember the name of our prof, who also wrote some texts around this).
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 07:34 pm
Riff away, dlowan. This is kind of an open idea thread based on some random thoughts that are intertwined in my head. I like to see where they lead.

If you can remember any of the names, ehBeth, that would be great. My head must be fuzzy today because my searches aren't leading to anything relevant. I'm going to have to jump in the way-back machine to recover the studies I read, I suppose.

Thanks for the article, Robert. It was also written by one of the Freakonomics guys! I confess my eyes glaze over when I see something like "ln(ARRESTSstb) = b1ABORTsb + ãs + ëtb + èst + åstb)" or "ln(CRIMEst) = b1ABORTst + XstÈ + ãs + ët + åst".

Sometimes I think I'll walk down the road and enroll at the amazing college just down the street and then I think I'll just sign onto A2K and somebody will help me out!

Now I must drag my lazy brain off to Mo's school's open house.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 07:59 pm
@boomerang,
http://www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/topics/sharedfate.htm

H. David Kirk

Fascinating man.

I wish I'd been better able to absorb some of his wisdom.

(the link above is to a fascinating site based at uoregon)

http://www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/studies/index.html

http://www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/studies/SchechterOAC.htm

Quote:
Schechter was not the first person to suggest that adoption posed intrinsic psychological risks. As early as 1937, psychiatrist David Levy presented case histories showing that adoptees suffered from “primary affect hunger,” a term he used to describe what is now called attachment disorder. A number of other clinicians in the U.S. and Britain published reports in the 1940s and 1950s about the deleterious consequences of growing up “without genealogy.” It was the boldness of Schechter’s claim that adopted children were much more likely to become neurotic and psychotic that galvanized helping professionals and therapeutic approaches to adoption. It also generated a great deal of controversy. H. David Kirk, author of Shared Fate, called Schechter’s study “spurious.” Many other researchers were equally skeptical that adoption was the sort of risk factor Schechter maintained it was.


~~~~

Dr. Kirk was working on

H. David Kirk, Adoptive Kinship: A Modern Institution in Need of Reform (Toronto: Butterworths, 1981)

when I was in his class. We had bits of chapters as they became ready (are they still in a box in the basement here?).
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 08:06 pm
@ehBeth,
http://www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/images/pgillus/Kirk.jpg

I just realized why photos of an Abuzz/A2k friend always sort of had a familiarity tang. He and Dr. Kirk had very similar early life experiences - and while there's a generational gap ... there's something in the look.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 08:06 pm
@ehBeth,
Seems to be a kind of primary wound for some and not for others.

You know, the studies of the poor kids adopted from the awful Romanian orphanages is turning out to be fascinating.

I haven't looked at the primary sources, but, from memory, a surprising number of them seem to be doing ok.

I must have a real look at that, because I suspect that data is going to contribute enormously to the burgeoning undersyanding of resilience factors, and also to what types of support help the most traumatised folk.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 08:06 pm
@ehBeth,
That's a face and a half.
 

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