A Flawed Study On Abortion And Crime?

It is surprising to read that academic heavyweights such as Harvard professor Robert J. Barro and his fellow professors from Stanford and the University of Chicago refer to, or even take responsibility for, a study that is of no academic value ("Does abortion lower the crime rate?" Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 27).

It would make more sense to state that crime correlates with unemployment rather than with abortion. Due to the economic boom the U.S. has been enjoying for the past couple of years, young people find alternative (legal) ways to make money, since society holds many job opportunities for them.

In countries like Germany, abortion rises along with crime. In Russia, where abortion has been legal since World War II, crime is massively on the rise due to a lack of jobs and a corrupt police force. So the study may be right only for the U.S. and only for the 1990s compared with the 1970s. One could argue just as well that abortion figures correlate with daily TV consumption or computer literacy in Portugal.

Barro mentions that improvements in crime statistics are due mainly to a decreasing number of property crimes. Property crime may well be prevalent among the poor, but why does he not mention changes in crime categories such as fraud and embezzlement, which are predominantly committed by rich, well-educated members of society?

Christian Grosse Erdmann