An empirical analysis of the welfare magnet debate using the NLSY
This paper examines the extent to which differences in welfare generosity across states lead to interstate migration. Using microdata from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth between 1979 and 1992, we employ a quasi-experimental design that utilizes the categorical eligibility of the welfare system. The "treatment" group consists of all those in the survey who appear eligible to participate in Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The "control" group contains those who are poor but ineligible for other reasons. The pattern of cross-state moves among poor single women with children who are likely to be eligible for benefits (treatment-group members) is compared to the pattern among other poor households. We find little evidence indicating that welfare-induced migration is a widespread phenomenon.
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