UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS AND THE WELFARE STATE: THE CASE OF REGIONAL MIGRATION AND U.S. AGRICULTURAL LABOR

Authors


  • I thank Michael J. Boskin, John B. Shoven, George Borjas, Aprajit Mahajan, Christina Gathmann, Giacomo De Giorgi, Colleen Manchester, Gopi Shah Goda, Kevin Mumford, and seminar and conference participants in many outlets for helpful comments. I also thank two anonymous referees and the editor of this journal for helpful suggestions leading to the final revision.

ABSTRACT

A common perception is that immigrants, including illegal immigrants, use disproportionate public aid and select locations based on characteristics of services offered. This paper asks to what extent geographic clustering of undocumented immigrant agricultural laborers in the U.S. is correlated with take-up of public aid broadly defined. Evidence from a nationally representative farmworker survey does not support welfare migration for undocumented immigrants, who have been previously unidentifiable in the literature. The paper, therefore, challenges existing notions of welfare migration by illegal immigrants that have inspired state-level public policy initiatives.

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