Migration Consequences of Welfare Reform

29 Pages Posted: 25 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)

Gregg G. Van Ryzin

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Newark

Date Written: October 2001

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate whether or not recent state and federal changes in welfare policy -- the imposition of time-limited benefits, the use of financial sanctions for non-compliance, and the setting of strict work eligibility rules -- affect the migration of low-educated unmarried women. Estimates of welfare's effect on migration reveal that welfare policy does indeed affect migration. Recent changes in policy that have made public assistance a less attractive alternative are associated with greater migration among low-educated unmarried women. Welfare reform has motivated low-educated women to move greater distances more frequently, and to combine such moves with employment. Estimates also indicate that welfare reform is associated with more local (i.e., within county) changes in residential location that are associated with employment, although estimates of this effect were not robust to estimation method. The close link between residential moves and employment in the post-reform period is consistent with the idea that welfare reform has motivated people to move for economic reasons such as better employment opportunities. This evidence suggests that the traditional way of thinking about the effect of welfare on migration -- as a strategic move to obtain higher benefits -- is inadequate.

Suggested Citation

Kaestner, Robert and Kaushal, Neeraj and Van Ryzin, Gregg G., Migration Consequences of Welfare Reform (October 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8560, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=288473

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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Gregg G. Van Ryzin

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Newark ( email )

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