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Welfare Usage in the U.S.: Does Immigrant Birthplace and Immigration Status Matter?

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  • Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth

    ()
    (Emory University)

  • Oyolola, Maharouf

    ()
    (African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC))

Abstract

The study of welfare participation in the U.S. prior to the 1996 welfare reform act and even afterward has focused on comparisons between native born and immigrant households. Analyses that have gone beyond this broad classification have focused on comparisons across race or with particular focus on particular groups like Hispanic immigrants. To the best of our knowledge, there is no study yet that tests for difference in welfare usage among immigrant groups and immigrant status. We do not expect welfare usage to differ among immigrant groups if we control for the factors that should predict welfare usage. Similarly, if immigration status does not prevent welfare usage for certain immigrants, then ceteris paribus, we do not expect welfare usage to differ among immigrant based on status. We investigate these possibilities by testing three related hypothesis using probability models. Our results suggest that birth place matters and the probability of welfare usage is not the same for all groups. We also find that for some birthplace groups, citizen and non-citizens differ with respect to welfare usage. Finally, we find that post welfare reform, the probability of being on welfare in comparison to U.S. born increased for all immigrant groups and these increases differed across groups. We provide possible explanations for our unexpected results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4659.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4659

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Keywords: immigrants; immigrant status; welfare reform; welfare;

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  1. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1990. "Immigrant Participation in the Welfare System," NBER Working Papers 3423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hansen, Jörgen & Lofstrom, Magnus, 1999. "Immigrant Assimilation and Welfare Participation: Do Immigrants Assimilate Into or Out-of Welfare," IZA Discussion Papers 100, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Huffman, Sonya K. & Kilkenny, Maureen, 2007. "Regional Welfare Program and Labor Force Participation," Staff General Research Papers 12589, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. George J. Borjas, 2000. "Immigration and the Food Stamp Program," JCPR Working Papers, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research 121, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. Borjas, George J, 1999. "Immigration and Welfare Magnets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 607-37, October.
  6. Borjas, George J & Hilton, Lynette, 1996. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means-Tested Entitlement Programs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 575-604, May.
  7. Magnus Lofstrom & Frank Bean, 2002. "Assessing immigrant policy options: Labor market conditions and postreform declines in immigrants’ receipt of welfare," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 617-637, November.
  8. Hansen, Jörgen & Lofstrom, Magnus, 2006. "Immigrant-Native Differences in Welfare Participation: The Role of Entry and Exit Rates," IZA Discussion Papers 2261, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Neeraj Kaushal, 2005. "New Immigrants' Location Choices: Magnets without Welfare," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 59-80, January.
  10. Madeline Zavodny, 1997. "Welfare and the locational choices of new immigrants," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q II, pages 2-10.
  11. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  12. Francine D. Blau, 1984. "The use of transfer payments by immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(2), pages 222-239, January.
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