Lots of people have lately been claiming that improving the economy will have the result of reducing the number of abortions; it is implied (sometimes stated) that this will be more effective than laws. Not surprisingly, this has become a mainstay of those "pro-life" persons who advocate voting for a pro-abortion candidate.
While I've seen a lot of responses to such arguments, what I haven't seen is the actual data. So, a few weeks back, I decided to make the attempt myself.
I downloaded GDP stats from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the abortion stats from the Guttmacher Institute over the period 1973-2005. (2005 is the latest year for which national abortion figures are available.) I then plotted them and calculated the correlation.
Here's the graph showing the two rates plotted against time. Note that I've used two Y-axes; the left is the scale for the abortion rate data while the right is the scale for the GDP growth data. Just looking at it reveals that there's really no relation between the two.
Nevertheless, in order to quantify the relationship, I calculated the correlation. What did I find? I find no correlation between real GDP growth and abortion rates.
Details: The calculted correlation coefficient ("r") is -0.02, practically zero. To be statistically significant, the correlation would have to be more than 0.344 (p=0.05).