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Do the Poor Move to Receive Higher Welfare Benefits?


  • Bruce D. Meyer


This paper examines the extent of welfare induced migration using 1980 and 1990 Census data. I begin by discussing a number of methodological issues which suggest biases in past methods used to study welfare migration. Using several different methods, I then provide new estimates which avoid many of the problems of past work. The estimates imply that there is welfare induced migration, but it is modest in magnitude.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce D. Meyer, 1998. "Do the Poor Move to Receive Higher Welfare Benefits?," JCPR Working Papers 58, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:58

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Brown, Charles C. & Oates, Wallace E., 1987. "Assistance to the poor in a federal system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 307-330, April.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
    4. 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.
    5. D. N. Figlio & V. W. Kolpin & W. E. Reid, "undated". "Asymmetric Policy Interaction among Subnational Governments: Do States Play Welfare Games?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1154-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:03:p:711-728_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. J. R. Walker, "undated". "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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    Cited by:

    1. Corrado Giulietti & Jackline Wahba, 2013. "Welfare migration," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 26, pages 489-504 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Thomas K. Bauer, 2002. "Migration, Sozialstaat und Zuwanderungspolitik," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 71(2), pages 249-271.
    3. 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.
    4. Pedersen, Peder J. & Pytlikova, Mariola & Smith, Nina, 2004. "Selection or Network Effects? Migration Flows into 27 OECD Countries, 1990-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 1104, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Borjas, George J, 1999. "Immigration and Welfare Magnets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 607-637, October.
    6. Ronel Elul & Narayanan Subramanian, 2002. "Forum-Shopping and Personal Bankruptcy," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 21(3), pages 233-255, June.
    7. Saavedra, Luz Amparo, 2000. "A Model of Welfare Competition with Evidence from AFDC," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 248-279, March.
    8. Ferro, Gabrielle & Grogan, Kelly A., 2014. "The Effects of State-Specific Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Policies on Individual Migration," 2014 Annual Meeting, February 1-4, 2014, Dallas, Texas 162541, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

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