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Importing the Poor: Welfare Magnetism and Cross-Border Welfare Migration

  • Terra McKinnish

I test for welfare-induced migration by comparing AFDC participation in border counties to interior counties within states. If migration costs are lower for border-county residents, border counties on the high-benefit side of a state border should have higher welfare participation relative to interior counties of the same state. Border counties on the low-benefit side should have lower welfare participation relative to interior counties of the same state. The results obtained using county-level data from 1970–90 indicate that having a neighbor with benefits that are $100 lower increases AFDC expenditures in border counties by 4.0–6.8 percent relative to interior counties.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 40 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 ()

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:40:y:2005:i:1:p57-76
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  1. 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.
  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. 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.
  4. Edward M. Gramlich & Deborah S. Laren, 1984. "Migration and Income Redistribution Responsibilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(4), pages 489-511.
  5. James P. Ziliak & David N. Figlio & Elizabeth E. Davis & Laura S. Connolly, 2000. "Accounting for the Decline in AFDC Caseloads: Welfare Reform or the Economy?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 570-586.
  6. 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.
  7. Thomas J. Holmes, 1998. "The Effect of State Policies on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 667-705, August.
  8. J. R. Walker, . "Migration amoung low-income households: Helping the witch doctors reach consensus," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1031-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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