So I’m reading (actually listening to it on audiobook) Stephen Levitt’s book Freakonomics – he’s an economist who writes about questions that have interested him for a while, and they’re not typical ‘economist’ questions – he asks stuff like ‘what do sumo wrestlers and real estate agents have in common?’ and ‘do teachers cheat for their students?’ and ‘why did the crime rate drop so dramatically in the 1990s?’. Anyway, his answers are thought-provoking to say the least – some things are pretty clear-cut, like his example of school teachers in the Chicago public school system who were caught cheating on standardized tests to increase their student’s scores (and therefore any benefits/pay increases coming to them) – and he’s got a whole section on the KKK (including quite a bit of history of which I was not aware), and about how their methods of intimidation and terror have changed over the years (including a story about a guy who went under-cover with them for several years to learn more about their secrets) – and there’s a really interesting section on drug dealers who still live at home with their moms, about how the majority of people selling drugs on the street aren’t making enough to live on their own, much less get out of the poverty they’re in… but the amazing part is when he talks about the crime drop in the 90s, he links the drop in crime with the legalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade (again, there’s some of this about which I was not completely aware), leading to much fewer births for women who are at the highest risk for raising children who will go on the become criminals (he says the education status, economic status and several other factors are the leading causes of children becoming criminals later in life) – so fewer births for those women means fewer criminals down the road, specificall children who would have ‘come of age’ in the 90s. This is fascinating to me (who knows why…) – and while I still think abortion is morally wrong, the concept is quite amazing, that legalizing abortion (and therefore making it available for those of lower-income/power rather than just those who could previously afford the illegal one – rich little girls) could have such a drastic effect on crime statistics. Now he does walk through the other causes of the crime rate decrease (gun control, better policing strategy/hiring, decreased drug market, etc) but he contends that the effect is still not fully explained without considering Roe v. Wade.
Anyway, you should check the book out – I’m thinking about getting a hard copy of it to look through so I can check out some of his references. I’m in the middle of a section on ‘what makes good parents?’ – also interesting, if slightly less controversial!
I’m heading home early today to see mom and dad and brother, but I’ll have to be back Sat night for some lab stuff and to be in church Sunday morning – better get things wrapped up so I can actually leave!