Paperback abortion: Freakonomics, market populism and that abortion-and-crime theory

Kate Gleeson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In 2005 Freakonomics popularised the abortion-and-crime theory based on the microeconomic model of fertility control that was buoyed by the phenomenal ubiquity of market populism at the time. In its massive popularity, the book filled the popular bandwidth with a simple caricature of abortion as an individual economic preference, the demand for which might simply be switched on or off by the prevailing market conditions of the day. This, potentially, has great implications for women's reproductive history, and for the contemporary conceptualisation of abortion as a medical need. In this article I interrogate the abortion-andcrime theory in order to expose its tendentious character as driven by market populism and outdated economic models that have long been a focus for feminist criticism. I highlight the lack of interrogation, both academic and popular, that was afforded the basic premise of the abortion-and-crime theory, in an ideological climate that at the time was overwhelmingly in thrall to market populism as promoted by neo-liberalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-192
Number of pages26
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Issue number68
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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