Immigrant and Native Responses to Welfare Reform

34 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2001

See all articles by Robert Kaestner

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Neeraj Kaushal

Columbia University - School of Social Work; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2001

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the effect of federal welfare reform on the employment, hours of work and marriage rates of three groups of low-educated women: foreign-born citizens, foreign-born non-citizens and native-born citizens. Among non-citizens, we investigate whether the behavioral response to welfare reform differed by recency of immigration. Finally, because some states created programs to insure that all legal immigrants remained eligible for benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and others did not, we compare the response of foreign-born non-citizens between these states to investigate whether the immigrant provisions of federal welfare reform legislation had a 'chilling' effect. The results suggest that welfare reform induced native-born citizens and foreign- born non-citizens to increase their employment and attachment to the labor market. TANF appears to have had a larger effect on the least educated native-born women and among foreign-born non-citizens, a larger effect on more recent arrivals. The 'chilling' hypothesis that has received so much attention in the popular press is not supported by our results. Finally, our estimates indicate that TANF had no effect on native- and foreign-born citizens' marriage decisions. TANF was associated with a decrease in the marriage rates of foreign-born non-citizens.

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Suggested Citation

Kaestner, Robert and Kaushal, Neeraj, Immigrant and Native Responses to Welfare Reform (October 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8541, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=286966

Robert Kaestner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

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Neeraj Kaushal

Columbia University - School of Social Work ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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