NEW YORK, November 16, 2012, ( – A flawed study that claimed abortion is responsible for reducing U.S. crime rates is listed as a source in the United Nations Population Fund’s annual report.

Its inclusion in the report, “By Choice, Not By Chance,” is puzzling, as the UNFPA document is putatively about birth control, not abortion.

John J. Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt wrote “The Impact of Abortion on Crime” for Harvard’s Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2001.  “Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime,” they concluded.


Levitt made the same observations in his 2005 book, Freakanomics

His controversial findings were promptly debunked by the wider academic community.

Statistician David Murray found that nations have a large increase in crime at about the time the aborted children would become young adults.

Ted Joyce of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Carnegie-Mellon Professor Alfred Blumstein, director of the National Consortium on Violence Research, were among many who said Donohue and Levitt ignored important contributing factors – like the expansion of the nation’s prison system – in their analysis. 

Two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston caught data programming errors in their calculations, as well. 

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The article is listed in the bibliography but not cited by name in the body of the report, which contains a long section touting the alleged benefits of mass contraceptive usage. It is unclear how the duo’s findings shaped the world body’s conclusions.


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