Trapped in America's Safety Net

Trapped in America's Safety Net

One Family's Struggle

Andrea Louise Campbell

Many state policy makers think the poor have a choice, and so they refuse to offer generous social assistance benefits for fear of becoming a “welfare magnet.” While empirical examinations of the welfare magnet phenomenon are inconclusive, what matters is that state lawmakers think the effect exists, and make policy accordingly. 75 But in fact, for many the choice of location is an illusion. An important study of poor single mothers found that while the generosity of welfare benefits did influence state residential choice somewhat, many move back to their home state, where their family network and connections are.

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