Op-Ed: If Abortion Is Good for the Economy, Why Did the Global Economy Explode After the Baby Boom?


Pro-abortionists tend to see pregnancy as something like a mole to be removed at the discretion of the mother, even though a man is not involved in forming a mole and the mole can never live an independent life.

With no moral component, the argument devolves into a discussion of whether new human life is worth the inconvenience to the mother.

Janet Yellen, secretary of the Treasury, has decided to wade into the emotionally tangled abortion argument with a novel moral-free view. According to her, abortion is good for the economy. She is wrong.

Yellen tacitly admits that we are talking about babies, not moles, because she argues that mothers, having to take care of a baby, have to modify their educational and professional choices. Choosing to have a baby is thus bad for the economy.

In so doing, she commits the fallacy of composition: What is true for a part is not true for the whole. In this case, what is true for one woman is not true for the entire society, nor may it even be true for the full working life of the woman.

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Data on abortions often comes from the Guttmacher Institute, which is part of the abortion industry, so should be suspect. It suggests that 1 in 4 women have abortions. What it doesn’t say is that abortions are highly concentrated in the black community. In addition, they are concentrated among women in their 20s and among the poor. Pregnancy itself affects only a portion of a woman’s life. That seems unlikely to move a $20 trillion economy.

Notice the implicit argument that abortion is birth control. It isn’t — it results from a lack of birth control. Birth control today is reliable, readily available and very inexpensive. Between birth control and self-control, women have wide latitude to work or complete their education.

The economy grew quite rapidly after the Industrial Revolution, and the standard of living climbed from roughly $2 a day in 1750 to about $300 dollars a day today. During almost all of that period, there was no state-subsidized unrestricted abortion. How did the economy manage to grow before Roe if most women were being inconvenienced by children?

Further, after World War II, the global economy grew rapidly despite a gigantic baby boom. How come all those kids did not slow down the economy?

There is a better case to be made that the baby boom was the driving force behind the entire post-war boom thanks to all the cars and furniture, housing developments, and schools that needed to be built. Exactly how does a shrinking population stimulate demand?

Is abortion good for the economy?

Economic growth, boiled down to its essence, is productivity plus population growth. Rampant abortion certainly reduces one part of that equation, and it is not clear if it adds to the other.

Motherhood is not an economic ball and chain. Women manage to get educated and work and yet have children. Working mothers are among our most productive workers. Some mothers leave the workforce for a while, only to return later.

In many families today, the woman makes more money than the man, and men are expected to participate in household work far beyond what their grandfathers did. Most families with children work it out, with both parents working.

Yellen also fails to note that abortion rates have continued to fall since 1973 and the economy has grown pretty nicely. How does she explain that?

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Yellen further ignores entirely the economic output of fathers. Married men with children work harder and are generally more successful than unmarried men. Therefore, it is hard to understand her argument unless her view is narrowed to only the poorest women who cannot or will not pair with a man. But again, that is just a part, not the whole of the economy.

It is also ironic that Democrats make the argument that the children of poor women are a burden on the economy and society when their immigration policies are geared towards importing as many poor women with children as possible.

Actually, fewer children create a problem for the economy on a variety of levels. It means less demand and fewer taxpayers to support our unfunded social entitlement system. This Ponzi-like system was never designed to support a large population on the back of a shrinking one. That is why Social Security and Medicare are going broke.

Sure, there are other problems with those two gigantic programs, but the most severe problem is that in 1954 there were about 14 workers supporting one retired person. Today there are about three workers for each retired person, and even that low number is shrinking.

In the broadest sense, Yellen misses perhaps the most important economic principle.

There are two kinds of capital: human capital and physical capital. Of the two, human capital is far more important. It is the grey matter between the ears that invents new machines, new technology and new ways of doing things. Without human capital, there can’t be physical capital.

Human brains can only come from humans — new humans to replace those who die. When you abort a large segment of the future population, you produce less human capital, the basis for all wealth.

How many craftsmen, inventors, teachers, soldiers, statesmen, scientists and musicians have we killed off? It is estimated at more than 60 million since Roe. That is a lot of human capital to destroy.

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Neland Nobel has two degrees in history with a specialty in economic history. He was awarded a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Nobel worked for 47 years in financial services. In retirement, he founded and serves as editor at large.