Abortion and adoption

(Wow, never noticed how similar those word are…)

This graph is cool ((In the “wow, look at the pretty data” sense not the “wow, isn’t abortion cool” sense. See this.))

Abortion and adoption

In 1968 abortion was legalized in the U.K. Adoption rates declined dramatically, but children taken into State custody remained at about the same rate. The authors of the article suggest this is one more chink in the armor of the abortion caused lower crime hypothesis. In the Levitt story, unwanted children — who are future criminals (obviously) — stopped being born after abortion was legalized, i.e. if a woman didn’t want a kid, she’d get an abortion instead of having the kid and raising it to be a criminal. However, adopted babies are, if nothing, the definition of wanted children so if abortion reduced adoptions significantly, its safe to say there weren’t that many “unwanted” kids being born before the legalization of abortion. Adoption and abortion are substitutes.

The best ((ibid)) part of this new thesis is that because of mass substitution from adoption to abortion, the adoption infrastructure suffered. This means for the marginal unwanted baby, it was harder for her mother to get an adoption and thus more likely for that baby to be raised in a bad, criminal creating, home. Creating marginally more restrictive abortion laws ((e.g. roe v. wade?)) would generate more crime.

Another explanation for the constant number of State interventions, though, is that fixed-budget child welfare bureaucrats started taking less marginal children away from their parents. In other words, in absolute terms, less unwanted kids, even accounting for adoptions, were being born, but more kids were being taken from their homes than would have been otherwise. The bureaucrats have to justify their budgets.

The above is a discussion of the supply side factors, but what about demand? Are “unwanted” children being underproduced?

(h/t SM,CI & SS… Andrew Gelman has a good discussion of testing long term mechanisms via short term effects. I call this, “testing the other implications of a theory.”)

3 thoughts on “Abortion and adoption”

  1. “Adoption and abortion are substitutes.”

    Adoption::Abortion as:
    a) Coke::Pepsi
    b) Plywood::Oak
    c) Cheese::Chalk

    Are you arguing for (a)? Because I’d counter and say that it’s (b). The costs of carrying a baby to term seem higher than the cost of a reasonably safe, routine surgical procedure (Not arguing for or against abortions. Just pointing that out.).

    (c) assumes the “adoption” figure refers to “children successfully adopted,” which is just silly. Kids who don’t get adopted don’t just despawn when they turn 18. What is the ratio of adoptive families to the pool of available orphans?

  2. On what grounds? Moral? Maybe this analysis should wait until you get your, uh, normometric…istic…al , uh, weightings figured out.

    What happened to microeconomic terms like incentives and opportunity costs? What incentives does a mother have to publicly carry an unwanted child to term versus private, early termination of a pregnancy? Are the risks of childbirth greater or less than the risks of an abortion?

    Again, I’m not for or against. Just want to see your defense of that statement.

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