Having a Baby Cuts Crime by 25%

Via Alex Tabarrok, here’s an interesting new paper about crime. It turns out that having a baby reduces crime among women substantially. This is unsurprising, and also of limited value since nearly all low-level crime is committed by men. So how does childbirth affect them? Here you go:

The chart on the left shows drops in every kind of crime. The chart on the right puts everything together and shows a gigantic overall drop in crime when men become fathers. More accurately, given the timeline, it shows that the drop in crime begins during pregnancy. The mere prospect of becoming a father in the near future is enough to cut crime rates by about 25 percent.

Nor is this effect limited to married men. Unmarried fathers offend at much higher rates than married men, but their offense rate drops far more than married men when their partner gets pregnant.

This study is based on administrative data from Washington state, and it would certainly be worth replicating elsewhere. If it holds up, it shows that becoming a parent is one of the most powerful anti-crime tools around. Even the prospect of spending 20 years in prison has nowhere near the deterrent effect of having a baby.

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