This paper explores national origin differences in the welfare recipiency of immigrants
to the United States. We develop an economic model of immigration which generates
implications about how welfare utilization should vary according to characteristics of the
country of origin. The empirical analysis reveals that a few source country characteristics
explain over two-thirds of the variance of welfare recipiency rates across national origin
groups, and changes in the average source country characteristics of the foreign-born
population between 1970 and 1980 can account for most of the rise in immigrant welfare use that occurred over the decade.
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