Thompson and Jeffords Explore Relationship Between Abortion and Property Crime

Posted on 12/10/2018 9:59:50 AM

A forthcoming paper by Alexi Thompson and Chris Jeffords explores the relationship between property crimes committed by females and abortion rates.

Applying an error correction model to annual national-level data from 1973 to 2009 while controlling for per capita income, the unemployment rate, and the female incarceration rate, Thompson and Jeffords find a positive and statistically significant relationship between the abortion rate and property crime rate (for those property crimes committed by females). In particular, a 1 percent increase in the abortion rate is associated with a 0.43 percent increase in the female property crime rate. Based on these findings, it's possible that the risk preferences of existing and expectant mothers factor into the decision to commit property crimes. For example, child-rearing may increase aversion to risk and partially explain the positive relationship between abortion rates and crimes committed by females.

From a policy perspective, and if property crimes are indeed an external cost associated with abortion, the results suggest that it may be prudent to devote additional resources to combating property crime in years when the abortion rate is rising or higher than average. In short, if the rate of abortion is positively associated with the rate of property crimes committed by females, then it's important to consider this relationship given the internal and external costs associated with committing property crimes.

They also find positive and statistically significant relationships between the female property crime rate and the unemployment rate, and the female property crime rate and the female incarceration rate. The former lending support to the idea that long run unemployment provides motivation to commit property crimes, and the latter providing some evidence that serving time in prison may not effectively deter females from committing property crimes.

This paper will be available in a forthcoming volume of Economics Bulletin, which, according to Research Papers in Economics (RePEC), as of December 2018 is ranked 72 out of 2,417 ranked economics and economics-related journals.

Department of Economics