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SSI, Labor Supply, and Migration

Author

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  • Neumark, David

    () (University of California, Irvine)

  • Powers, Elizabeth T.

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program in the United States creates incentives for potential aged recipients to reduce labor supply prior to becoming eligible, and our past research finds that older men likely to be eligible for SSI at age 65 reduce their labor supply in the years immediately before the age of eligibility. However, given the dramatic supplementation of SSI benefits in some states, a migration response to these benefits cannot be dismissed, and migration that is associated with SSI benefits can lead to bias in estimates of the effects of SSI benefits on labor supply; depending on retirement and migration behavior, the disincentive effects can be overstated or understated. Migration responses to SSI benefits are also important in their own right, as another instance of the potential problem of "welfare magnets." We fail to find any statistically significant evidence that older individuals likely to be eligible for SSI in the near future, or already eligible for SSI, are more likely to move from low benefit to high benefit states. These findings are robust to the use of a number of different comparison groups to try to capture the state-to-state migration patterns that exist independently of a response to SSI. The evidence indicates that labor supply disincentive effects of SSI do not stem from migration behavior that could, in principle, spuriously generate these findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth T., 2005. "SSI, Labor Supply, and Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 1820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1820
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    2. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 2000. "Welfare for the elderly: the effects of SSI on pre-retirement labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 51-80, October.
    3. Phillip B. Levine & David J. Zimmerman, 1999. "An empirical analysis of the welfare magnet debate using the NLSY," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(3), pages 391-409.
    4. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1991. "Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 282-307.
    5. Powers, Elizabeth T. & Neumark, David, 2005. "The Supplemental Security Income Program and Incentives to Claim Social Security Retirement Early," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 58(1), pages 5-26, March.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    9. David Neumark & Elizabeth T. Powers, 2005. "The Effects of Changes in State SSI Supplements on Preretirement Labor Supply," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(1), pages 3-35, January.
    10. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2004. "Migration, the Life Cycle, and State Benefits: How Low Is the Bottom?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1091-1130, October.
    11. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
    12. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 1998. "The effect of means-tested income support for the elderly on pre-retirement saving: evidence from the SSI program in the U.S," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 181-206, May.
    13. 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 529-554, July.
    14. Figlio, David N. & Kolpin, Van W. & Reid, William E., 1999. "Do States Play Welfare Games?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 437-454, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Neumark, David & Song, Joanne, 2013. "Do stronger age discrimination laws make Social Security reforms more effective?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-16.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; labor supply; SSI;

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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