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Abstract

The claim is often made that welfare recipients move to states where benefits are more readily available in more generous amounts. To test that claim, this study uses data on state General Assistance (GA) programs, as well as data on single men from the Public Use Microdata Set of the 1990 U.S. Census. We find only slight evidence that men who lack access to GA seek it elsewhere, and overall we find that the availability of GA has no more than a marginal effect on the location decisions of the men we studied. It seems that poor people, like other people, are interested in more than government benefits (or other financial considerations) when they make such decisions. Among other things, they are likely to care about the quality of their social relations, including networks of family and friends that serve as critical sources of support.

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