The Economic Cost of Abortion
(In order to better understand this section, the viewer may wish to consult the sources for our statistics and the table used to calculate the final figure [PDF Version] [Microsoft Excel .XLS Version].)
The economic cost of abortion is something which is difficult to assess. There are many choices for the economist to make – should it be measured as a lowering of gross domestic product? Taxation revenue? Average wage? A specific and limited damage to specific industries (such as toys, diapers, child medical care etc. etc.) pertaining to childhood? For various reasons, we have chosen to concentrate on gross domestic product (GDP).
GDP is one of the best indicators of economic activity for a nation as a whole. It does not describe economic movement totally and there are issues with using it, but it remains one of simplest and easiest figures to understand. In addition, figures for GDP are readily available and the term is often used in lay-economics and the popular media.
We began by obtaining the figures for the total numbers of surgical abortions carried out in the United States since 1973 to 2007 (the last year when figures were available). We then assumed (based on simple logic and population distribution) that half of those aborted babies would be female and that – at age 25 – each would have an average of a single child (based on CDC figures).
Combining these calculations allowed us to generate a running total of “missing persons” from the USA. This total was presented for each year from 1973 to 2007 inclusive.
It was then a simple matter to calculate how much these “missing persons” would have contributed to the GDP of the USA by taking the GDP per capita of the USA for each year and multiplying it by the number of “missing persons” so far. Note that the figure is not the persons who were “made missing” (i.e. aborted or not born in) in that year, but rather the total number of missing persons since 1973. These individuals would ALL have been contributing to the GDP of the nation.
A simple sum of the figures of lost GDP from 1973 to 2007 inclusive resulted in a total figure for lost GDP due to surgical abortion between 1973 and 2007. Then, a simple multiplication allowed us to convert year 2000 US$ (which were the GDP figures we had) into year 2007 US$ in order to give an accurate figure. The final total is shown on the spreadsheet – it is somewhere in the region of $37 trillion.
Q : Is it reasonable to assume that all women would have had a child at age 25?
It is not – but that is not what we assume. We assume that, on average each woman would have had one child by age 25. The average age for a woman to have her first child was 25.1 years in 2004 – a figure which was roughly four years lower in 1970. Accordingly, there will be women who would have had two or more children by the age of 25, and some who would have had none. Bear in mind also that the figure of 25.1 years is due in no small part of the simple fact of abortion in the USA.
Like many of our calculations, this is an assumption – as there are no hard figures available for how murdered individuals would have acted. The 25.1 year figure is for live births - not abortions. The figure for viable pregnancies will be much lower.
Q : Is it reasonable to assume that all aborted babies would have lived for the full 34 years covered by your calculations?
It is not – although we have done so in order to streamline the math. Based on CDC statistics, roughly 98% of persons born in 1973 (live births) are still alive today (2007 – the last year for which figures are available). It would be reasonable to reduce the final figure by 2% because of this.
However, our figures do not take into account the fact that non-surgical abortions (including deliberate abortions carried out by such things as “the morning-after pill”) are also abortions and are not included in the total. These figures would, if included, raise our calculations significantly. However, no hard data are available for these abortions. Accordingly, we have streamlined the math in a number of ways.