The Lifecycle Welfare Migration Hypothesis: Evidence from The 1980 and 1990 Censuses

University of Maryland Dept. of Econ. Working Paper

Posted: 11 Apr 2000

See all articles by Jonah B. Gelbach

Jonah B. Gelbach

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: March 2000

Abstract

Welfare eligibility has traditionally required presence of a minor child in the household. Welfare migration incentives should thus be stronger among mothers of young children than among mothers of older children. Moreover, once migration has occurred, it is less likely to occur in the future, so that the population distribution is selected on locational preferences after initial locational decisions are made. Both of these factors suggest that welfare migration should be observed primarily among mothers of relatively young children. Using several welfare migration measures, I present evidence of substantial lifecycle welfare migration among women observed in the 1980 Census, with 1990 Census data suggesting positive but relatively less welfare migration. I argue that this pattern of evidence is to be expected based on theoretical models of the joint determination of locational choice and state benefit determination; intergenerational correlation in income also leads to the prediction of declining welfare migration. My results suggest that previous literature on welfare migration has understated the extent of welfare migration because of failure to address dynamic incentive and selection effects.

JEL Classification: H73, I38, J61, R23

Suggested Citation

Gelbach, Jonah B., The Lifecycle Welfare Migration Hypothesis: Evidence from The 1980 and 1990 Censuses (March 2000). University of Maryland Dept. of Econ. Working Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=219963

Jonah B. Gelbach (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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