This article addresses whether welfare recipients move to states with higher benefit levels. I argue that the theory of welfare migration based on higher benefits is more a myth than reality, and that the California statute that was addressed in United States Supreme Court decision Saenz v. Roe merely serves as a “penalty” to welfare recipients. I move beyond prior analyses that focus solely on whether welfare migration occurs based on benefit level disparities, and provides a sociological analysis of alternative rationales for why poor individuals move to new states. I argue that welfare migration is not severely impacted by higher benefit levels and focus on other economic and non-economic factors that affect an individual’s decision to move to a new state. In particular, migration of the poor is often driven by such diverse factors as pursuing employment opportunities, moving to live closer to family and friends, and living in a safe and healthy environment.


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