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Unintended Migration Consequences of US Welfare Reform


  • Hal W. Snarr

    () (Department of Economics & Finance, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, U.S.A.)

  • Daniel Friesner

    () (College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences, North Dakota State University, Dept. 2650, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, U.S.A.)

  • Mark L. Burkey

    () (Department of Economics & Finance, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, U.S.A.)


Researchers have analyzed whether US welfare reform has induced interstate migration. Empirical results are inconclusive because methodologies are based on pre-reform thinking. This paper presents a post-reform migration model. We find that recipients move to avoid harsh sanction policies, seek lenient work requirements, and extend time limits. Unlike the first two behavioral responses, the latter is controversial. Critics will argue that such moves are illegal, and violators can be prosecuted because states share data. However, only active cases are being shared, meaning violators cannot be caught. Our model produces testable hypotheses which are consistent with (and reconcile) previous empirical results.

Suggested Citation

  • Hal W. Snarr & Daniel Friesner & Mark L. Burkey, 2011. "Unintended Migration Consequences of US Welfare Reform," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 233-252, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecanpo:v:41:y:2011:i:3:p:233-252

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    Cited by:

    1. Nguyen, Duc Loc & Grote, Ulrike & Nguyen, Trung Thanh, 2019. "Migration, crop production and non-farm labor diversification in rural Vietnam," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 175-187.
    2. Nguyen, Trung Thanh & Do, Truong Lam & Parvathi, Priyanka & Wossink, Ada & Grote, Ulrike, 2018. "Farm production efficiency and natural forest extraction: Evidence from Cambodia," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 480-493.

    More about this item


    Migration; Welfare reform;

    JEL classification:

    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs


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