Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 391–409 | Cite as

An empirical analysis of the welfare magnet debate using the NLSY

  • Phillip B. Levine
  • David J. Zimmerman


This paper examines the extent to which differences in welfare generosity across states leads to interstate migration. Using microdata from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) between 1979 and 1992, we employ a quasi-experimental design that utilizes the categorical eligibility of the welfare system. The pattern of cross-state moves among poor single women with children, who are likely to be eligible for benefits is compared to the pattern among other poor households. We find little evidence indicating that welfare-induced migration is a widespread phenomenon.

JEL classification: I38 
Key words: Interstate migration welfare poverty 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phillip B. Levine
    • 1
  • David J. Zimmerman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Economics, Wellesley College Wellesley, MA 02138, USA (Fax: +1-781-283-2177; e-mail:
  2. 2.Department of Economics, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA (Fax: +1-413-597-4045; e-mail:

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