The Roe Effect

Since the publication of Freakonomics, a lot of readers have written to comment upon or ask about “the Roe Effect,” the theory put forth by James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal. The Roe Effect posits that among the many unintended consequences of Roe v. Wade was a significant change in voting patterns. Although Taranto himself acknowledges many nuances and wrinkles in his theory, it is well worth reading about. Here is a link to his latest article.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Less crime and more republicans, or more crime and fewer republicans. Hmmm. Tough Choice.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Taranto points out that “40 million abortions” have occurred since Roe. This is indisputable. But Taranto obviously does not understand his basic Freakonomics.

    Most economists estimate that while over 1 million abortions occur annually, only 100 thousand children are not born as a result.
    How is this possible?

    Well, consider that abortion serves consumers by many different angles. True, abortion reduces the number of births. It is also used as birth control, as a health procedure, even as an insurance plan (insurance in the event the condom breaks, etc). In other words, abortion CAUSES more conceptions than would occur without any abortion. In the process, the “Roe” effect is realistically only 4 million unrealized citizens, not the 40 million that Taanto claims. 36 million of these ‘missing’ voters simply never would have existed, Roe or No.

    No wonder “the results are mixed.”

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  3. Ken D. says:

    Abortions occurred before Roe and would have continued to occur, legally and illegally, had Roe been decided the other way. How laws would have changed absent Roe is unknown. Calculating how birth rates would have been different, much less the demographics involved, can probably never be more than wild speculation.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    True, abortion reduces the number of births. It is also used as birth control, as a health procedure, even as an insurance plan (insurance in the event the condom breaks, etc). In other words, abortion CAUSES more conceptions than would occur without any abortion. In the process, the “Roe” effect is realistically only 4 million unrealized citizens, not the 40 million that Taanto claims.

    So 90% of the aborted fetuses would not have been conceived before Roe? And 90% of abortions are the result of people choosing not to use protection or choosing to have sex with protection when they normally wouldn’t because they have the insurance of an abortion?

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  5. Anonymous says:

    This is the flipside to abortions resulting in less crime.

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  6. seamus says:

    It is a statement of fact, not a moral judgment, to observe that every pregnancy aborted today results in one fewer eligible voter 18 years from now.

    This assumes that the parent would have had just as many children after the abortion as they would have had if the abortion were not available.

    Imagine two childless women. Both eventually want a child, and both get pregnant unexpectedly. One has an abortion, the other doesn’t.

    The one who has an abortion may still want to become a mom, and they may have a child or more children in the future. The one who had a baby instead of an abortion is now a mother, and may not feel the need to have any more kids. If this is the case, both women will eventually have one child, so an equal number of voters will be created, whether abortion is available or not.

    You must also weigh the emotional impact of abortion, as well as how the accessibility of abortion impacts the sexual and social behavior of women.

    Not quite a “statement of fact” that one abortion = one fewer voter, is it?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    You could call it time shifting, in that a significant percentage of the potential mothers were able to time shift the potential birth to a point in their lives where they felt they were able to provide the kind of home life they had always wished for their child.

    Unfortunately, the efforts of the “pro-life” movement has an unfortunate and unrecognized reality – banning abortion would not produce the desired outcome – a good chance at a constructive home for every child.

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  8. Carl Johnson says:

    9:21 Anon: you’re ignoring the fact that the “desired outcome” for most abortion opponents isn’t merely that children have constructive homes, but that fetuses, which they regard as equivalent to people, are not ‘murdered.’

    At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, I submit that though we all would like a good economy, few of us are willing to follow the economic path of Germany in the 1930s. Why? Because their good economy was built on the back of slave labor and mass murder. Similarly, to those who consider abortion to be murder, no good result can justify using the means of ‘murdering the innocent.’

    Now, I’m not going to stake a claim one way or the other in the debate, but it seems to me that if you want debate, you have to understand your opponent’s position.

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