Non-economist social scientists are beginning to weigh in on Steven D. Levitt's most famous Freakonomics theory. Here's a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (2006, Aug):
Fertility and the Abortion-Crime Debate
Hangartner, D. , Sykes, B. L. and Hathaway, E. A.
Abstract: Recently some scholars have asserted that abortion legalization during the 1970s resulted in lower crime 15-20 years later. While economists have both substantiated and challenged these findings, sociologists and demographers have been mute on the topic. In this paper, we show that the supposed link between abortion and crime is actually the result of omitted variables bias and difficulties in distinguishing between age-period-cohort effects. We correct these problems and use quasi-experimental methods to retest the causal argument for homicide, property, and violent crime. Using a unique data set compiled from multiple sources, we find that abortion legalization did not have any measurable effect on crime 15-20 years later once appropriate controls are included. Our findings indicate that any drop in crime is the result of a mixture of unmeasured period and cohort effects and not abortion.