In 1974, the Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade landmark decision, legalized abortion, did this have the unintended consequence of lowering the US crime rate, and keeping it low 18 years later. Let’s first look at the statistics. Violent crime in America and the murder rate (charts below), increased in the 1970’s and then peaked in the 1980’s. Many researchers, myself included, attribute this in part, to the war on drugs, and accompanying violence between the various drug/street gangs. However, beginning in 1992, violent crime and murders started to decline and continued to decline into the next decade. What Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner reasoned in their book Freakonomics, is that this decrease in crime, is attributable to the Roe v. Wade decision. The great majority of abortions, 70%, are performed on women who are from a lower socioeconomic class who tend to be uneducated, unmarried and poor, which also happens to be the typical demographic of a criminal, particularly a career criminal. African Americans make up 14% of the population in the United States yet account for 35% of all abortions, and compared to non-hispanic whites, have a lower education rate and lower average yearly income.
But wait there’s more. Then New York, Mayor, Rudi Guliani, took credit for the decreased crime rate in the 90’s by stating he increased the Police Department’s budget and put more cops on the street. However, in the very same period, violent crime decreased in Los Angeles and because of cutbacks, there were less cops on the street.
Other reasons relating to the police include the enhanced use of surveillance cameras and the increase in technology, such as DNA, computer tracking of crime and data bases. It is estimated that the average person is picked up by a surveillance camera 12 to 15 times/day.
Whatever the reason, and I suspect there is no one reason but multiple reasons, the crime rate has decreased, and it appears the trend will continue