Brian Cushing

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


Document Number

Research Paper #2005-8


This study investigates whether interstate differences in welfare benefits affected destination choices of low-income households in the United States during the 1985-90 period. It considers place-to-place migration decisions of poor single-parent females within a conditional logit framework. The research develops an array of variables that add a substantial spatial component to the analysis. The empirical results reconcile conclusions of recent academic literature with the views of state policy officials, but in a somewhat unexpected way. This study finds only modest evidence of a welfare magnet effect, and only for contiguous states. On the other hand, the study strongly confirms the importance of space and connections between places when explaining migration of the poor.