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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt
Edition: Hardcover
1066 used & new from $0.01

41 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An empirical book based on faulty numbers, May 1, 2005
Published Thursday, April 21, 2005, in Wall Street Journal

Abortion Legalization and the Crime Rate

Not surprisingly, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's new book "Freakonomics" ignores their academic critics, but Steve Landsburg's review disappointingly does so too (Leisure & Arts, April 13). Take just the book's first claim: Unwanted children are more likely to grow up to be criminals and that abortion can therefore reduce crime, a plausible idea that has been around since the beginning of the abortion debate. Yet, despite Messrs. Levitt and Dubner's claims, legalization doesn't explain 75% of the drop in murder rates during the 1990s, and if anything the reverse is true.

Their data had a serious error. The Planned Parenthood affiliated organization that supplied them with the data incorrectly claimed that when abortion was legalized during the late 1960s and early 1970s, states went from a complete ban to complete legalization, but abortions had been allowed before complete legalization when the life or health of the mother was endangered. The Centers for Disease Control data show that before Roe v. Wade many states that had allowed abortions only when the life or health of the mother was endangered actually had higher abortion rates than states where it was completely "legal."

If Messrs. Levitt and Dubner were correct, crime rates should have first started falling among younger people who were first born after legalization. Only as they aged would you start seeing crime fall among older criminals. But in fact the precise opposite is true. Murder rates during the 1990s first started falling for the oldest criminals and very last for the youngest.

John R. Lott Jr.

Resident Scholar

American Enterprise Institute

Washington


The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Modern Library Chronicles)
The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Modern Library Chronicles)
by John Micklethwait
Edition: Hardcover
53 used & new from $0.15

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold thesis, December 7, 2003
Sweeping history of the corporation in a very short concise book. For many, I think just the history of the corporation would make this book worthwhile. Their claims about the importance of the corporation in world history represent a bold thesis, but the authors provide evidence not only over time but across countries and show why the different forms of corporations allowed some countries to advance faster than others.


Punishment and Democracy: Three Strikes and You're Out in California (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)
Punishment and Democracy: Three Strikes and You're Out in California (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)
by Franklin E. Zimring
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $140.00
53 used & new from $2.53

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, December 13, 2001
This is an important topic, but the empirical work in this book is at the level of the average newspaper. The work doesn't even take into account that all counties in California didn't follow the rules. What about simultaneously trying to account for arrest rate and conviction rates or changes in any other factors that affect crime?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2012 2:53 PM PST


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