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Abstract

The welfare reform bill adopted in the United States in 1996 limited the eligibility of immigrants for several government assistance programs, and early projections estimated that nearly half of the savings associated with the reforms would come from these immigrant restrictions. Several studies have found that subsequent program participation declined more for immigrants relative to natives, seemingly verifying the early projections. However, many of these restrictions were either rescinded by the federal government or superceded by state and local policies. In this paper, we first reproduce earlier findings that show the relative declines in program use among immigrants. We then show that much, but not all, of the relative decline in program use among immigrants can be explained by changing macroeconomic conditions. © 2004 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.