Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Paul-Philippe Paré


Donohue and Levitt (2001) argued that the legalization of abortion in the US during the 1970s contributed to 50 percent of the dramatic decline in crime that occurred in the 1990s. Although a lengthy debate in the literature has proliferated and remains inconclusive, this controversial theory has been popularized by the Freakonomics (2005) franchise. The liberalization of abortion services that occurred in Canada in 1988 offers an improved focal intervention to perform an empirical test of this theory. The methods that have emerged from the debate are reviewed. The most promising strategies, namely time-series plots of crime, “effective abortion rate” analyses, and age-specific crime rate analyses, are employed. Using data from the UCR2 and the TAS, this study finds no consistent relationship between abortion and crime rates in Canada. The theory that an increase in abortion rates is associated with declines in crime, therefore, must be regarded with serious skepticism.