Abortion Legalization and Crime Rates: Is There a Relationship?

Speaker Biographies

John J. Donohue III is the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Prior to joining Yale in 2004, Mr. Donohue taught at Northwestern University and Stanford University. His 2001 article with Steven Levitt, "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime" (Quarterly Journal of Economics), has been among the most prominent and controversial articles published in social science in the past decade. Professor Donohue is also the author of Foundations of Employment Discrimination Law (Foundation Press, 2d edition, 2003), as well as scores of articles in leading economics and law journals.

Christopher L. Foote is a senior economist in the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. From 1996 to 2002, Mr. Foote taught at Harvard University’s department of economics, where he also served as director of undergraduate studies. In July 2002, he accepted a position as senior staff economist with the Council of Economic Advisers, where he became chief economist in February 2003. From May 2003 to September 2003, he served as an economic adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq, returning briefly to Iraq in January and February of 2004. He joined the Boston Fed in October 2003.

Ted Frank is a resident fellow at AEI and director of the AEI Liability Project, managing the Institute's research about liability reform proposals, tort law, class actions and civil procedure, and other related issues. Before joining AEI, Mr. Frank worked at law firms in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and clerked for Judge Frank H. Easterbrook. His litigation work included Vioxx and automobile product liability cases; class action defense; and antitrust and patent cases.

Ted Joyce is the academic director of the Baruch/Mt. Sinai MBA Program in health-care administration, where he is also a professor in the department of economics and finance. Professor Joyce teaches the economic sequence in the program as well as a module in regression analysis. He has published widely on the economics of infant and reproductive health. He presently has a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the effect of cigarette excise taxes on maternal smoking and is collaborating on a second grant from NIH to study the impact of welfare reform on birth and abortion rates.

Leo Kahane is a professor of economics at California State University, East Bay. He is the author of Regression Basics (SAGE Publications, 2001), and specializes in the use of statistical analysis to help make management decisions. His research has been published in the Atlantic Economic Journal, Economic Inquiry, Public Choice, Applied Economics, and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Sports Economics. His teaching interests include international trade and finance, econometrics, and managerial economics.

Jonathan Klick is an assistant professor of law and a courtesy professor of economics at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, and serves as an adjunct scholar for AEI's Liability Project. Mr. Klick's research focuses on statistical analyses of the effects of legal changes on individual behavior. He has published academic articles in The Journal of Law and Economics, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, and The Journal of Legal Studies, as well as numerous medical journals and law reviews.

Phillip Levine is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Economics at Wellesley College, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research affiliate of the National Poverty Center, and a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. He has also served as a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Professor Levine’s research has largely been devoted to empirical examinations of the impact of government programs and social legislation on individuals’ and firms’ behavior, including the impact of abortion policy changes on pregnancy, abortion, and birth. In addition to many publications in academic journals and edited volumes, he is also the author of Sex and Consequences: Abortion, Public Policy, and the Economics of Fertility (Princeton, 2004).

John R. Lott Jr. is a resident scholar at AEI. Mr. Lott has held positions at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Stanford, UCLA, Wharton, and Rice and was the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission during 1988 and 1989. Mr. Lott has published over ninety articles in academic journals and is the author of The Bias against Guns (Regnery Publishing, 2003), More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws (U Chicago, 2000) and a book on antitrust policy titled Are Predatory Commitments Credible?: Who Should the Courts Believe? (U Chicago, 1999). Mr. Lott’s opinion pieces have appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune.

Florenz Plassmann is an associate professor of economics at SUNY-Binghamton. His specialties include public economics, urban and regional economics, and applied econometrics. He has published papers on the effect of "shall issue" laws on crime, takings under eminent domain, the environmental Kuznets curve, self-assessment of property, and land value taxation. Before joining SUNY-Binghamton in 1999, Professor Plassmann was a senior research associate at Virginia Tech.

Steve Sailer is a journalist. He was the first public critic of the empirical validity of the Donohue-Levitt theory that legalizing abortion significantly cut the crime rate, debating Steven D. Levitt in Slate.com in August 1999. Mr. Sailer is also a columnist for VDARE.com and for The American Conservative. From 2000 to 2004 he was the National Correspondent for United Press International. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was an executive in the marketing research industry. His blog and article archive are available at www.iSteve.com.

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