Immigrants, Welfare Reform, and the U.S. Safety Net
Marianne P. Bitler
University of California-Irvine - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Hilary Williamson Hoynes
University of California, Davis - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
NBER Working Paper No. w17667
Beginning with the 1996 federal welfare reform law many of the central safety net programs in the U.S. eliminated eligibility for legal immigrants, who had been previously eligible on the same terms as citizens. These dramatic cutbacks affected eligibility not only for cash welfare assistance for families with children, but also for food stamps, Medicaid, SCHIP, and SSI. In this paper, we comprehensively examine the status of the U.S. safety net for immigrants and their family members. We document the policy changes that affected immigrant eligibility for these programs and use the CPS for 1995-2010 to analyze trends in program participation, income, and poverty among immigrants (and natives). We pay particular attention to the recent period and examine how immigrants and their children are faring in the “Great Recession” with an eye toward revealing how these policy changes have affected the success of the safety net in protecting this population.
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Number of Pages in PDF File: 55working papers series
Date posted: December 17, 2011
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