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Public Assistance and Private Support of Immigrants

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  • Lingxin Hao
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    Abstract

    This study addresses receiving AFDC and private support (both monetary and nonmonetary) and their interrelationship among immigrant families with dependent children. Building upon social capital theory, our theoretical framework emphasizes the role of community social capital and hypothesizes links between social capital and the receipt of public and private support, and the complementary nature of AFDC and private support for immigrant families. The latter hypothesis stands in contrast to existing economic theory which argues for a "crowding out" hypothesis under which AFDC support reduces private support and leads immigrant families to assimilate into a welfare culture. In a methodological step forward from the literature, we develop measures of both the quantity and quality of community social capital, coethnic contact and coethnic economic activity at the county level, to test our hypotheses. There are two sets of major findings. The first demonstrate the effects of community social capital on the receipt of AFDC and private support. The second show no displacement of private monetary support by AFDC for immigrants and that the complementary relationship between AFDC and private non-monetary support is stronger for immigrants than for natives, thereby challenging the crowding out hypothesis and welfare assimilation. Our findings reveal the importance of including the quality of community social capital and considering nonmonetary forms of private support in the analysis. An important policy implication is that policy makers do not need to fear that receipt of ADFC will lead immigrant families with children to adopt the American welfare culture since our results show that AFDC complements private support among immigrants, much more strongly than among natives.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 171.

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    Date of creation: 30 May 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:171

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    1. Hatton, T.J. & Williamson, J.G., 1992. "What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Ninteenth Century," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1614, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. 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.
    3. 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, vol. 111(2), pages 575-604, May.
    4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jennifer Hook & Jennifer Glick & Frank Bean, 1999. "Public assistance receipt among immigrants and natives: How the unit of analysis affects research findings," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 111-120, February.
    6. Kenneth Bollen & David Guilkey & Thomas Mroz, 1995. "Binary outcomes and endogenous explanatory variables: Tests and solutions with an application to the demand for contraceptive use in tunisia," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 111-131, February.
    7. George J. Borjas, 1991. "National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period," NBER Working Papers 3575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
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