Frum: Let’s flash forward to the present day. You make short work of most of the theories explaining the crime drop-off since the mid-1990s: the Freakonomics theory that attributes the crime decline to easier access to abortion after 1970; the theory that credits reductions in lead poisoning; and the theory that credits the mid-1990s economic spurt. Why are these ideas wrong? And what would you put in their place?
Latzer: The abortion theory has suffered some very serious methodological criticisms of late, leading to damaging concessions by Steven Levitt. But aside from this, both the abortion and leaded-gasoline theories are mistaken because of a failure to explain the crime spike that immediately preceded the great downturn. Abortions became freely available starting in the 1970s, which is also when lead was removed from gasoline. Fast-forward 15 to 20 years to the period in which unwanted babies had been removed from the population and were not part of the late adolescent, early adult, cohort. This cohort was responsible for the huge spike in crime in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the crack cocaine crime rise. Why didn’t the winnowing through abortion of this population reduce crime? Why did young people instead generate a major crime increase? The abortion theory is unable to explain this. Instead, it focuses on the crime decline that began in 1993. Likewise, the lead removal theory.More.
Reality check: Well no. Why would it? Whether young people become involved in crime is principally a function of whether crime is accepted in their communities. If it is, those who are not aborted are at high risk to commit crimes.
See also: Didn’t think you’d live to see sex selection abortions defended – by progressives?