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Work disability and migration in the early years of welfare reform


  • Deborah Graefe


  • Gordon Jong
  • Dee May


The inter- and intra-state migration of American families with work-disabled members is a neglected area of empirical study. Longitudinal migration and health status data from the 1996 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) are merged with state-level welfare policy indicators to investigate migration behavior under welfare reform’s emphasis on requiring work and encouraging reliance on social support networks. We use a nested discrete-choice event history model that incorporates the departure decision and interstate destination choice in a single model that tests the effects of state-level welfare policy and economic opportunity characteristics, with state fixed effects, plus family sociodemographic characteristics and social networks, as the basis for comparing migration of families with and without work disabilities. The results show that although families with disabilities and illnesses are less likely to migrate than other families generally, they are “pushed” to migrate if they live in states that do not exempt them from TANF activities requirements. Furthermore, in-migration is inhibited by stringent state welfare illness exemption rules and high state unemployment rates. Intrastate migration is more likely among families who received family and community social support, regardless of work-disability status. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah Graefe & Gordon Jong & Dee May, 2006. "Work disability and migration in the early years of welfare reform," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 25(4), pages 353-368, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:poprpr:v:25:y:2006:i:4:p:353-368
    DOI: 10.1007/s11113-006-9001-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Borg, Vilhelm & Kristensen, Tage S., 2000. "Social class and self-rated health: can the gradient be explained by differences in life style or work environment?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1019-1030, October.
    2. Gordon F. De Jong & Deborah Roempke Graefe & Shelley K. Irving & Tanja St. Pierre, 2006. "Measuring State TANF Policy Variations and Change After Reform," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 87(4), pages 755-781.
    3. Faini,Riccardo C. & de Melo,Jaime & Zimmermann,Klaus (ed.), 1999. "Migration," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662338, May.
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