Thursday, October 13, 2005
Today I'm going to write about a book I recently read that I thought was awesome. The book is called Freakonomics. You should really visit www.freakonomics.com.
The book is written by Steven Leavitt, considered to be one of the most brilliant young economists in the world. In the book, Leavitt basically asks really weird questions about how the world works and then answers them using economic tools to sort through massive amounts of data. That might sound like the most boring book in the world, but he really is a great writer, and the book reads more like a "did you know" than a dictionary.
DID ABORTION CAUSE CRIME RATES TO FALL?
One of the most intriguing questions that he asks and answers is what happened to the rapidly escalating crime of the 1980's? Experts at the end of the 80's predicted that violent crime rates would continue to skyrocket to astronomical proportions as the next decade got underway. However, for some unknown reason, crime rates suddenly began dropping like a stone in the 90's. At first no one could explain, but then pundits and experts began saying that the falling crime rates were the result of tougher gun control laws, an aging population, and a booming economy.
Leavitt didn't really by into these reasons. He posed to himself a simple question- who commits violent crimes? There is no one answer obviously, but, statistics show that the majority of violent crimes are committed by poor, uneducated men in their late teens and early twenties. Leavitt then pondered why these people were no longer committing these crimes. What he found statistics to show was that the pool of men that fit this category was shrinking. But why? He proposed that it was because 20 years prior, Roe v. Wade was decided, and abortion was made legal. Hmmmm...
Data shows that the majority of abortions that have been performed in the 30 years since Roe have been performed on poor, uneducated women in urban environments. This is indisputable. Studies also statistically show that these women are more likely to have children that therefore grow up poor and uneducated. So what happened? Suddenly, children with the highest potential to grow up in an environment that statistically fosters more violent criminals were not being born. Hence, a decrease in the pool for violent criminals.
Leavitt statistically supported his hypothesis by analyzing crime data from the five states that legalized abortion prior to the nationwide ruling. These states had legalized abortion approximately 3 years earlier than Roe v. Wade. Interestingly, towards the end of the 80's, when the crime rates for the other 45 states were still escalating, the crime rates for these states was dramatically, and unexplainably, dropping.
Well, there you have, a little taste of Freakonomics. You have to believe me, the book really is interesting, and it really is an easy read. Let me know if you have any questions. And be sure to leave a comment after the post telling me to stop reading nerd books.
at 5:10 PM