A note about causality

When I first read Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, the most interesting fact that stood out to me was the effect that legalizing abortion had on crime rate.

I know what you’re thinking, but how does this relate to gay families? Am I going to make some ridiculous tie between gay parenting and promoting abortions? No, that’s not quite it.

In the early 1990s, Levitt and Dubner found that the crime rate began to fall, and not entirely thanks to stricter crime enforcement or policing. No, this fall in crime was thanks mostly to the legalizing of abortion. It was for the fact that those who could have potentially committed crimes in the 1990s, simply could not do so because they were not born.

This is the nature of causality. We tend to think of it in terms of immediate cause and effect, like the effect of that nosebleed was caused by that punch to the nose. However, this is a more distant chain of causality.

The cause of legalized abortion meant that mothers who did not want their children, did not have to have them. On the other hand, children who are unwanted tend to be raised with less care or in a more aggressive environment, and therefore in their lives are bound to increase crime rates. But children who are unwanted and not had, cannot cause that spike in crime.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

The immediate and longterm effects of legalizing gay marriage are not known, and with that I agree. However, neither were the effects of legalizing abortion and that turned out for the better.

Now I’m not saying that I advocate for or against abortion here. What I am saying is that unknown effects can come from some unlikely causes because they may not happen right in front of your face, but further down the road.

Do we know for sure what effects could come from legalizing gay marriage? Of course not. I’m not saying we should judge whether or not it should be legalized on it’s potential effects, but that the positive repercussions deserve as much, if not more, consideration as any other possible effects.

Who knows? Maybe legalizing gay marriage could have had a similar effect on the crime rate as legalizing abortion. With more couples that did want children, maybe the unwanted children could be adopted and raised in an environment that would change their path and reduce their potential for committing crimes.

Really, just think about it.


About mshifrin

Fresh Bachelors in my hand, the world's an open book. Time to explore!
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