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  • Writer's pictureGlenn Morgan

Roe v Wade Reversal + 15 Years = Crime

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

The Impact of Row v. Wade Reversal on Future Crime and Real Estate Selection Options



Peer reviewed research and historical data combine to tell us the introduction of abortion restrictions beginning in 2019 in select US states and the 2022 Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade will lead to increased violent crime, property crime, and murder 15 years hence in regions restricting abortion rights. Regardless of your opinion on abortion rights, this is a fact:

  • Lack of access to safe, legal, abortion results in increased crime in 15 years.

When unwanted babies born today enter prime crime years in 15 years (and thoughts of innate parental love aside, it’s true; some babies are unwanted) those states restricting abortion rights today will experience a surge in property and violent crime in 15 years.


With this information in hand, my hope is to help you answer the following questions:

  1. Where should we buy a home?

  2. Where should we raise our family?

  3. Where shall I retire?

  4. Where do I want to locate my business or office?

Your answers will further benefit from an understanding of the correlated impact of crime on real estate values. Regardless of your opinion on abortion rights, this is a fact:

  • Locations subject to increased crime experience property value reductions.

Research suggests a 10% increase in violent crime is associated with a 6% drop in housing values.[1] Homes located in lower crime areas experience a 7+% value increase over their cohort.[2]


Assuming you’re not a fan of increased crime and assuming you do not wish to risk a reduction in property value, you have 15 years to make informed location decisions or relocate away from states at risk of increased crime.


Ignoring politics, religion, and/or personal passions, please find below two predictions:

  1. Crime Across the US Rises Dramatically in 15 Years: 15 years from 2022, crime will rise in the states applying the SCOTUS reversal of Roe v Wade to restrict rights to legal abortion.

  2. Early Abortion Restrictions in States Leads to Crime Rates Rising Three Years Earlier in Those States: 15 years from 2019, the year in which select states began restricting abortion, crime will rise in early abortion restriction states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

My goal is not to persuade you of a particular position, as I trust you to make your own decisions. My goal is to help you consider relevant information as you decide the best course of action for you, your family, and/or your business. With this trust in mind, I give you facts.


  • Abortion Access + 15 Years = Crime Drop: When abortion is legal, crime falls, lagged by 15 years. After 15 years, unwanted children approach prime candidacy for crime. ‘Overall, the abortion effect accounted for one-half of the drop in crime from 1991 to 1997... About 20% of the abortion-related drop in crime arose because of the reduced population of 15-to-24-year-olds (the high-crime age group) in the 1990s.’[3] [4]


  • Legalized Abortion Accounts for Half the 1990’s Reduction in Crime: ‘States with high rates of abortion have experienced a roughly 30 percent drop in crime relative to low abortion regions since 1985 … the estimates suggest that legalized abortion can account for about half the observed decline in crime...’[5]


  • Declines in Crime Are Concentrated within Age Groups Born During Years Subject to Legal Abortion 15 Years Earlier: ‘All of the decline in crime from 1985-1997 experienced by high abortion (rate) states relative to low abortion states is concentrated among the age groups born after Roe v. Wade. For people born before abortion legalization, there is no difference in the crime patterns for high abortion and low abortion states.’[6]


  • States Legalizing Abortion Before Roe v. Wade Experienced a 30% Greater Crime Reduction: “For the period from 1973-1988, the two sets of states (high abortion states and low abortion states) have nearly identical crime patterns. But from the period 1985-1997, when the post Roe cohort is reaching peak crime ages, the high abortion states see a decline in crime of 30% relative to the low abortion states.”[7]


  • Prior to 1973 Roe v. Wade, Five States Legalized Abortion Early and Those States Experienced Greater Reductions in Violent and Property Crime and Murder: ‘…states including New York, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, legalized abortion by 1970, three years before the U. S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. As the theory implies, the early legalizers experienced falling crime rates sooner than the rest of the country.”[8] For the time period of 1982 to 1997 these early legalizers saw increase reductions in crime as compared to the rest of the US:

    • Five early-legalizer states: 12.8% reduction in violent crime, rest of US: 17.6% increase in violent crime

    • Five early-legalizer states: 44.1% reduction in property crime, rest of US: 8.8% reduction in property crime

    • Five early-legalizer states: 40.8% reduction in murder, rest of US: 24.6% reduction in murder


  • Access to Legal Abortion Cut Crime in 16 European Countries: And it wasn’t just in the US that the impact of access to legal and safe abortion services reduced crime. In Europe, research by François, Magni Berton, and Weill ‘provide new evidence on the abortion-crime link by examining this issue using a sample of 16 Western European countries. The cross-country investigation allows the exploitation of the different dates of abortion legalization in Europe (and) ... find(s) abortion rate has a significant and negative impact on crime rates, specifically, homicide and theft.’ [9]


  • Legal Abortion is Affordable to Those In Need: ‘... the costs of an abortion – financial and otherwise– dropped considerably after legalization. Kaplan notes that ‘an illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade cost $400 to $500, while today, thirteen years after the decision, the now legal procedure can be procured for … $80.’[10]


  • Overall Infant Outcomes Improve with Access to Legal Abortion: ‘... the availability of abortion improves infant outcomes by reducing the number of low birthweight babies and neonatal mortality ...[11] Moreover, ... ‘the average living circumstances of cohorts born immediately after abortion became legalized improved substantially relative to preceding cohorts.’ [12]


  • Unwanted Children are 50% More Likely to Live in Poverty: Children who were not born as a result of abortion legalization would have systematically been born into less favorable circumstances if the pregnancies had not been terminated: they would have been:


  • 50 percent more likely to live in poverty,

  • 45 percent more likely to be in a household collecting welfare,

  • 40 percent more likely to die during the first year of life.

‘Previous research has found that an adverse family environment is strongly linked to future criminality. [13]


  • Today’s Early Abortion Restriction States Are Already at Risk: Early abortion restriction states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi were already at risk in 2019 when abortion restrictions began and may not be prepared to address a surge in crime in 15 years. 15 years hence, they will require our help.


  • Alabama had the nation’s 5th highest incarceration rate[14], 5th worst childhood poverty rate (as of 2017)[15] [16], was ranked 46th in educational attainment[17], was ranked 46th in 2017 medium income [18], came in 45th in happiness and was ranked 46th in emotional and physical well-being among adults.”[19]


  • Arkansas was ranked 47th in educational attainment[20], 49th in 2017 medium income[21], 49th in happiness, and 50th in emotional and physical well-being[22]. Arkansas had the highest teen birth rate in the Union with a tally of 32.8 out of 1,000 girls.”[23]


  • Louisiana had the 2nd highest rate of incarceration in the nation[24], 2nd highest poverty rate[25], the nation’s worst childhood poverty rate with the most children – 14.3% – living in extreme poverty[26] [27], was ranked 48th in educational attainment[28], was ranked 46th in 2017 medium income[29],was second to last with a ranking of 48th in happiness, was ranked 44th in emotional and physical well-being[30], and 47th in teen pregnancy.[31]


  • Mississippi had the 2nd highest rate of childhood poverty rate (as of 2017) with the second most children – 13.1% – living in extreme poverty [32] [33], was ranked 50th in educational attainment[34], 50th in 2017 medium income[35], 43rd in happiness, 42nd in emotional and physical well-being[36] and 45th in teen pregnancy.[37]


When considering the early abortion restriction states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi at a family or business decision-making level, the evaluation of residential or commercial property transactions within early-restrictor states merits the inclusion of a risk premium reflective of the predicted crime increase and concomitant property value decrease.


When considering the early abortion restriction states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi at the federal governmental level, the United States federal government may wish to plan for increased allocation of federal budgetary funds to the 2019 early restrictor states in the form of additional support and increased transfer of federal tax receipts as early-restrictor states start from a position of vulnerability and may be ill prepared to address increased crime.


Final Thoughts: Though I have my own political, religious, and personal preferences, I seek not to share them for a torrent of such opinions is available elsewhere.


My intent is to share information, as my opinions and preferences are of no use to you.


These fact-based predictions are shared with the following goals in mind:

  • Contribute to Constructive Conversation: Provide a contribution to thoughtful discussion regarding the long term impact of abortion rights and/or restrictions and your ability to cite sourced material during instructive debate.


  • Deliver Data-Driven Decisions: Enhance your ability to make better informed family and business location and property sale/purchase decisions via the inclusion of the noted predictions and associated risks.

You are my peer.


You are my neighbor.


I trust you will make decisions based on facts and well-sourced research supporting the needs of you, your family, and your business.


The rest is up to you.





Footnotes:

Original image credit: Gage Pierce [1] “Crime and Housing Prices”, Ihlanfeldt, Mayock, Florida State University, 2/2009, https://coss.fsu.edu/dmc/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2020/09/02.2009-Crime-and-Housing-Prices.pdf “[2] Crime and property values: Evidence from the 1990s crime drop”, Devin Pope, Jaren Pope, Booth School of Business, 8/26/2011 http://devingpope.com/assets/files/Website_Crime_Property.pdf [3] “Does Abortion Lower the Crime Rate?” By Robert Barro, Business Week, page 30, 9/27/99 [4] “Does Abortion Lower the Crime Rate?” By Robert Barro, Business Week, page 30, 9/27/99 [5] NBER Working Paper Series, working paper 8004, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime” by John Donohue III and Steven Levitt, 2000 [6] http://freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/ [7] http://freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/ [8] “Does Abortion Lower the Crime Rate?” By Robert Barro, Business Week, page 30, 9/27/99 [9] “Abortion and Crime: Cross-Country Evidence from Europe”, by Abel François & Raul Magni Berton & Laurent Weill, 2014. [10] NBER Working Paper Series, working paper 8004, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime” by John Donohue III and Steven Levitt, 2000 [11] “Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birth Weight Production Functions in New York City” Grossman, Joyce, University of Chicago Press, October 1990. [12] Among other articles, “Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?”, Gruber, Levine, Staiger, Quarterly Journal of Economics Volume 114, No. 1, Feb 1999 [13] NBER Working Paper Series, working paper 8004, “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime” by John Donohue III and Steven Levitt, 2000 [14] The Most Dangerous States in America, USA Today, 11/19/18 [15] (two sources 1 of 2): Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, 2001 Supplementary Survey, 2002 through 2017 American Community Survey. [16] Child Poverty in America, Children’s Defense Organization, 9/13/18 [17] Most and Least Educated States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 1/21/19 [18] US Census Bureau, Factfinder.census.gov, as of May 2019 [19] Happiest States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 9/10/18 [20] Most and Least Educated States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 1/21/19 [21] US Census Bureau, Factfinder.census.gov, as of May 2019 [22] Happiest States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 9/10/18 [23] Teen Birth Rate Comparison, 2017 by Power to Decide [24] The Most Dangerous States in America, USA Today, 11/19/18 [25] The Most Dangerous States in America, USA Today, 11/19/18 [26] (two sources 1 of 2): Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, 2001 Supplementary Survey, 2002 through 2017 American Community Survey. [27] Child Poverty in America, Children’s Defense Organization, 9/13/18 [28] Most and Least Educated States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 1/21/19 [29] US Census Bureau, Factfinder.census.gov, as of May 2019 [30] Happiest States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 9/10/18 [31] Teen Birth Rate Comparison, 2017 by Power to Decide [32] (two sources 1 of 2): Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, 2001 Supplementary Survey, 2002 through 2017 American Community Survey. [33] Child Poverty in America, Children’s Defense Organization, 9/13/18 [34] Most and Least Educated States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 1/21/19 [35] US Census Bureau, Factfinder.census.gov, as of May 2019 [36] Happiest States in America, WalletHub, by Adam McCann, 9/10/18 [37] Teen Birth Rate Comparison, 2017 by Power to Decide

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