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Abstract

The disbursement of welfare benefits at the state level and the perceived race to the bottom due to welfare based migration are a growing policy concern. At the federal level, any household whose income falls at or below 130% of the poverty line after allowable deductions qualifies for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. However, the program is administered by states, and states can make it easier for households to obtain benefits by lowering the qualification level. This paper analyzes how variation in minimum requirements and benefit levels in different states affects migration between states and uses a probit model to predict the probability that an individual migrates to a new state. In the current economic situation, policies that affect monetary outflow are important to consider. If individuals are moving between states to obtain higher food assistance benefits, then states have an incentive to work against this process by increasing eligibility requirements or implementing penalties for migration. We find that individuals are more likely to migrate to states with easier requirements and lower poverty levels.

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