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SSI, Labor Supply, and Migration

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Author Info

  • Neumark, David

    ()
    (University of California, Irvine)

  • Powers, Elizabeth T.

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program in the United States creates incentives for potential aged recipients to reduce labor supply prior to becoming eligible, and our past research finds that older men likely to be eligible for SSI at age 65 reduce their labor supply in the years immediately before the age of eligibility. However, given the dramatic supplementation of SSI benefits in some states, a migration response to these benefits cannot be dismissed, and migration that is associated with SSI benefits can lead to bias in estimates of the effects of SSI benefits on labor supply; depending on retirement and migration behavior, the disincentive effects can be overstated or understated. Migration responses to SSI benefits are also important in their own right, as another instance of the potential problem of "welfare magnets." We fail to find any statistically significant evidence that older individuals likely to be eligible for SSI in the near future, or already eligible for SSI, are more likely to move from low benefit to high benefit states. These findings are robust to the use of a number of different comparison groups to try to capture the state-to-state migration patterns that exist independently of a response to SSI. The evidence indicates that labor supply disincentive effects of SSI do not stem from migration behavior that could, in principle, spuriously generate these findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1820.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2006, 19 (3), 447-479
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1820

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Keywords: migration; labor supply; SSI;

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References

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  1. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  2. Enchautegui, Maria E, 1997. "Welfare Payments and Other Economic Determinants of Female Migration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 529-54, July.
  3. David Neumark & Elizabeth Powers, 1998. "Welfare for the Elderly: The Effects of SSI on Pre-Retirement Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 6805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Phillip B. Levine & David J. Zimmerman, 1999. "An empirical analysis of the welfare magnet debate using the NLSY," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 391-409.
  5. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2004. "Migration, the Life Cycle, and State Benefits: How Low Is the Bottom?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1091-1130, October.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Powers, Elizabeth T. & Neumark, David, 2005. "The Supplemental Security Income Program and Incentives to Claim Social Security Retirement Early," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 58(1), pages 5-26, March.
  8. David Neumark & Elizabeth T. Powers, 2005. "The Effects of Changes in State SSI Supplements on Preretirement Labor Supply," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(1), pages 3-35, January.
  9. Figlio, David N. & Kolpin, Van W. & Reid, William E., 1999. "Do States Play Welfare Games?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 437-454, November.
  10. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 1998. "The effect of means-tested income support for the elderly on pre-retirement saving: evidence from the SSI program in the U.S," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 181-206, May.
  11. David Neumark & Sanders D. Korenman, 1988. "Does marriage really make men more productive?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Jan K. Brueckner, 1999. "Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom: Theory and Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 505-525, January.
  13. Blank, Rebecca M., 1988. "The effect of welfare and wage levels on the location decisions of female-headed households," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 186-211, September.
  14. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Neumark, David & Song, Joanne, 2013. "Do stronger age discrimination laws make Social Security reforms more effective?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-16.

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