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“Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” Essay

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Updated: May 1st, 2020

Executive Summary

The current paper aims at analyzing the chapter “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” from the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in 2005. The chapter tells about the reasons for American crime drop in the 1990s and describes the essence of the abortion-crime link.

The evaluation of Levitt and Dubner’s thinking process is based on the Wolcott’s “Steps for Better Thinking” model that consists of the four main stages: framing a problem, using relevant information, evaluating alternatives, and drawing conclusions. Each stage has its own peculiarities and answers a number of questions that help to comprehend the worth of the chapter.

Framing the Problem

“Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” begins with a description of the story that comes from Romania of the 1960s. Its dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, proclaimed abortion as an illegal action and defined a fetus as a social property that could not be killed and destroyed (Levitt and Dubner 117). In several pages, the authors start talking about the reasons why the level of American crime has been decreased considerably in the 1990s.

They introduce a list of factors that may influence the crime rates and inform about the possible connection between abortion and crime. In fact, the authors succeed in identifying a problem in the title of the chapter. They want to know how it happens that the level of crimes has been decreased within a short period of time and whether this kind of decline may last for a long period.

At first, the authors identify the problem of the crime decline in a larger context mentioning that all predictions about possible crime increase were wrong. In the middle of the chapter, the authors frame the crime decline problem in certain terms of abortion legalization and a number of other factors that define the quality of crime, its prevention, and possible punishment. According to the authors, American crime decline may be considered as an open-ended problem as it assumes many correct explanations at the same time.

The reader comprehends that the crime decline may be explained by a number of innovative policing strategies or an increased number of police, the introduction of tougher gun control laws or the changes in drug markets, increased reliance on prisons or capital punishment, strong economy or aging of the population (Levitt and Dubner 120). However, it is evident that the reader wants to know more about the idea of how abortion legalization may influence the decline of crime.

Using Relevant Information

Levitt and Dubner develop a powerful chapter discussing the peculiarities of the crime decline in the United States of America in the 1990s. They use a number of specifics like the story of the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, and his practice of abortion illegalization or the experience of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Commissioner William Bratton to introduce a new approach to policing. These real-life examples prove the correctness of the chosen approaches and the urgency of the topic.

The authors’ choice of evidence is another crucial aspect of the analysis of the work. They take one particular explanation of the crime decline, share their position, introduce explanations, and explore the connections. An evident correlation between abortion and the crime decline provides the reader with a perspective that abortion ban or legalization may define the level of crime considerably.

At the same time, a contradiction takes place as it is possible to define abortion as a crime. In this case, it is hard to give one certain answer to whether abortion is an effective means to use it against crimes. Specific details used in the chapter. The case of Anthony Bouza proves that abortion may and has to be considered as the only effective prevention of crime.

When women give birth to their babies without any desire to bring them up, give them appropriate education, provide them with clear explanations of what is wrong and what is right, etc., they create a kind of rudiment of a future crime. Such attention to the details makes the chapter interesting and makes the reader believe that the rest of the book may contain the same amount of helpful and captivating information.

Exploring Alternatives

The authors evaluate evidence from alternative points of view. They do not want to provide the reader with one particular state of affairs; this is why it is possible to find a powerful analysis of each factor of the crime decline, their correlations, and, finally, the relation between abortion and the level of crime. On the one hand, the authors explain how such factors like economic improvements, capital punishment, or changes in drug markets may drive crime down.

On the other hand, they use the opinions of different experts in the chosen sphere (US Supreme Court Justice Mr. Blackmun, for example) to show an alternative and prove that capital punishment cannot work all the time effectively, this is why it cannot be regarded as an effective reason of the crime decline.

The presence of such alternatives helps to understand that the topic has its peculiar features. It is hard to give one certain answer to the question of why all American criminals have disappeared in a certain period of time. The answer should be a combination of unbiased ideas, and the idea of abortion should become its basis.

Drawing Conclusions

“Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” is the chapter with a clear and captivating structure that makes a person keep reading just to find out the answers to the main questions defined at the beginning of the work. This chapter does not have any hidden aspects – the reader knows what to expect from the work and gets the desirable information at the end of the chapter.

The authors define a good criterion according to which they evaluate alternatives and establish the priorities of their investigation. They do not find it necessary to use too complicated terms, provide too old examples, or give too serious explanations. The reader should enjoy the story and want to read more.

Among a variety of perspectives used in the chapter, an economic perspective takes an important place. Levitt and Dubner mention that economic is all about measurement; this is why each solution made in terms of its possible intentions to understand the impact of one of the factors under consideration and define the quality of the whole effect.

The conclusions made by the authors show that abortion and the crime decline cannot be matched together as a woman’s decision about abortion is a purely personal issue that provides a woman with a right to decide whether she is ready to become a good parent for her child or not. Another interpretation of abortion and its connection to the crime decline should be excluded.

Works Cited

Levitt, Steven, D. and Dubner, Stephen, J. “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York, NY: William Morrow, 2005. 117-144. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Where Have All the Criminals Gone?" May 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/where-have-all-the-criminals-gone-essay/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '“Where Have All the Criminals Gone?”'. 1 May.

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