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Immigrant and native responses to welfare reform


We investigate the effect of welfare reform in the US on the employment and hours of work of low-educated foreign-born and native-born women. For foreign-born women, we investigate whether the effect of welfare reform differed by year of immigration. We also examine whether the immigrant provisions of welfare reform had a “chilling” effect on those who remained eligible for benefits. Results suggest that welfare reform induced low-educated women to increase their labor market attachment; reform had larger effects on the least educated native-born women and among foreign-born, larger effects on more recent arrivals. The “chilling” hypothesis is not supported.

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Correspondence to Robert Kaestner.

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All correspondence to Robert Kaestner. The authors thank Lynn Karoly, Christoph Schmidt, seminar participants at the University of Illinois and New School University, and several anonymous referees for comments on a previous draft of this paper. Robert Kaestner is grateful to the Luce Foundation for partial support for this research. Responsible editor: Christoph M. Schmidt.

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Kaestner, R., Kaushal, N. Immigrant and native responses to welfare reform. J Popul Econ 18, 69–92 (2005).

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JEL classification:

  • J21
  • I38


  • Employment
  • hours of work
  • social policy