Interstate variation in welfare benefits and the migration of the poor: Substantive concerns and symbolic responses
S. F. Schram
Nearly all states are thinking about reforming their welfare systems, and several states--particularly those that offer high welfare benefits--are taking action. A major concern is that poor people are moving to high- benefit states in order to receive the benefits offered by those states. It is unclear, however, if this "welfare migration" is extensive enough to break the budgets of high-benefit states. Nevertheless, legislators in those states are seeking to stop it, usually through two-tier benefit schedules whereby new arrivals to a state are temporarily paid the welfare benefits they would have received had they remained in their original state. The authors discuss the extent to which two-tier benefit schedules represent substantive reform or symbolic action. In their estimation, current strategies for welfare reform fail to address the causes of poverty and welfare dependency and may only intensify the antagonism many Americans feel toward the poor.
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