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Reassessing the "Race to the Bottom" in State Welfare Policy

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • Berry, William D. (Florida State University)
  • Fording, Richard C. (University of Kentucky)
  • Hanson, Russell L. (Indiana University)
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • National Science Foundation
Free Keywords
poverty; public assistance programs; states (USA); welfare services
  • Abstract

    On the assumption that poor people migrate to obtain better welfare benefits, the magnet hypothesis predicts that a state's poverty rate increases when its welfare benefit rises faster than benefits in surrounding states. The benefit competition hypothesis proposes that states lower welfare benefits to avoid attracting the poor from neighboring states. Previous investigations, which yield support for these propositions, suffer from weaknesses in model specification and methodology. We correct these deficiencies in a simultaneous equation model including a state's poverty rate and its benefit level for AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) as endogenous variables. We estimate the model using pooled annual data for the American states from 1960 to 1990, and find that a state's poverty rate does not jump significantly when its welfare payments outpace benefits in neighboring states. Neither is there any evidence of vigorous benefit competition among states. States respond to decreases in neighboring states.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS1: Dataset
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Collection Mode
  • (1) The files submitted are read_me_first.pdf (documentation for the replication dataset), BFH_JOP.dta (a Stata 8.0 dataset containing all data necessary to replicate the results reported in the article), and BFH_JOP_unpublished_supplement.pdf, an unpublished supplement described in the text of the article. (2) These data are part of ICPSR's Publication-Related Archive and are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the investigator(s) if further information is desired.

This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 1294 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Berry, William D., Fording, Richard C., Hanson, Russell L.. Reassessing the 'Race to the Bottom' in State Welfare Policy. Journal of Politics.65, (2), 327-349.2003.

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Berry, William D.; Fording, Richard C.; Hanson, Russell L. (2004): Reassessing the "Race to the Bottom" in State Welfare Policy. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.