The economic well -being of low -income immigrants in the U.S.: An examination of the impact of the 1996 welfare reform on immigrants

Rui Song, Florida International University

Abstract

The 1996 welfare reform, for the first time in U.S. history, set a five-year residence requirement for immigrants to be eligible for federal welfare benefits. This dissertation assessed the impact of the 1996 welfare reform, specifically the immigrant provisions, on the economic well-being of low-income immigrants. This dissertation also explored the roles that migration selection theory and social capital theory play in the economic well-being of low-income immigrants. ^ This dissertation was based on an analysis of the March 1995, March 2002, and March 2006 Annual Demographic Supplement Files of the Current Population Survey (CPS). Both logistic regression and multiple regression were used to analyze economic well-being, comparing low-income immigrants with low-income citizens. Economic well-being was measured in the current survey year and the year before on the following variables: employment status, full-time status (35 or more hours per week), the number of weeks worked, and the total annual wage or salary.^ The major findings reported in this dissertation were that low-income immigrants had advantages over low-income citizens in the labor market. This may be due to immigrants' stronger motivation to obtain success, consistent with migration selection theory. Also, this research suggested that immigrant provisions had not ameliorated employment outcomes of low-income immigrants as policymakers may have expected.^ The study also confirmed the role of social capital in advancing the economic well-being of qualified immigrants. Ultimately, this dissertation contributed to our understanding of low-income immigrants in the U.S. The study questioned the claim that immigrants are attracted to the U.S. by welfare benefits. This dissertation suggested that immigrants come to the U.S., to a large extent, to pursue the goal of upward mobility. Consequently, immigrants may employ greater initiative and work harder than native-born Americans.^

Subject Area

Sociology, Theory and Methods|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare|Sociology, Demography

Recommended Citation

Rui Song, "The economic well -being of low -income immigrants in the U.S.: An examination of the impact of the 1996 welfare reform on immigrants" (January 1, 2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. Paper AAI3268664.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3268664

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