Report: California’s High Welfare Benefits Attract New Immigrants

Chriss W. Street, Breitbart, January 27, 2015

In a report entitled “Immigrants Tend to Live in High Welfare Benefit States,” published on Jan. 26, 2015, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) determined that “the generous welfare benefits offered by some states have magnetic effects and alter the geographic sorting of immigrants in the United States”–attracting many to California.

The report found that “there is a ‘striking and easily observable clustering of immigrants in high-benefit states.” As California rose from offering medium benefit levels in 1970 to “almost the most generous in the nation” by 1990, the benefit levels served as a magnet for less-educated immigrants.


NBER’s latest publication, by Research Associate George Borjas, found a causal relationship that “clustering” has been true for immigrants receiving welfare as opposed to those who are not. American native populations do not cluster in the same way as immigrants, because they find it expensive or costly in other ways to move from one state to another. But immigrants who have decided to make the costly move to the U.S. must only decide which state is most advantageous to them. The extra cost of reaching that state may be small for an immigrant compared to a native resident.

Borjas used data from the 1980 and 1990 censuses to look at where immigrant households (those whose heads are resident aliens or naturalized citizens born outside the United States) have settled, and compare that data with data from native households (those with heads born in the United States). Borjas then determined if a household received Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Supplemental Security Income, and general assistance in the year prior to the census to account for the general trends in welfare.


NBER found a direct correlation between the increasing relative the generosity of California’s welfare system and attracting immigrants. In 1990, California was home to 9.6% of U.S. natives who did not receive welfare and 11.5% of U.S. natives who did receive welfare. Yet it was the also home to 27.6% of the nation’s immigrant households not receiving welfare and 37.6% of immigrant households that did receive welfare.

If looking at only those immigrant heads of households who arrived in the United States five years prior to the census are included, the clustering becomes more obvious. Some 45.4% of recent U.S. immigrants receiving welfare live in California, as compared to only 28.9 percent of those recent immigrants who do not receive welfare.

NBER research revealed that, “Much of this clustering is because less-educated immigrants are more likely to live in California than less-educated natives. This is true even within groups of immigrants from a specific nation.”

Borjas found the same clustering was evident in the numbers for recent female-headed immigrant households with children. Borjas also determined that the clustering in California holds true even if immigrants from countries sending large numbers of refugees to the United States are excluded and if immigrants of Mexican origin are excluded. So the clustering in California cannot be said to be entirely the result of California being adjacent to Mexico, or merely a favorite location for refugees.


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  • AmericanCitizen

    California is welcome to have them all. The other states should put up signs in every conceivable language giving clear directions to California and a little story about how wonderfully diverse and generous California is to the average foreign leech looking to claim benefits they have no right to take.

    On second thought, maybe the other states should include a free bus or train ticket to ensure the immigrants go to California. The cost of those tickets is far less than the long-term savings by not coddling to freeloaders with no intention to work.

    • MBlanc46

      Unfortunately, other states also have employers wanting to import cheap labor.

      • Charles Martel

        True but those jobs attract people who will work for low wages. Those coming to California don’t want work, they want benefits!

        • MBlanc46

          I believe that a lot of them get both wages and welfare in many states.

    • Raymond Kidwell

      They actually have a program in Florida that does give bus tickets to people who are needy. Some other places do it as well.

      • Southern California cities were buying their mentally-ill homeless one-way bus tickets to places farther north, like Santa Cruz when I was an undergrad there.

  • High welfare benefits are attracting “new immigrants” (read illegal aliens)? Who would have ever guessed? Why didn’t anyone tell us this? You mean there’s actually a connection between providing welfare for illegals and the arrival of “new immigrants”? (sarc off)

  • Atheist Realist

    all the welfare population moving to the cities is forcing people inland into places like Riverside

  • MekongDelta69

    “California’s High Welfare Benefits Attract New Immigrants Illegal Aliens

    As the kids would say, “Well duuuuuh”

  • Chip Carver

    We need a report to tell us that CA is filling up with non-whites because of all the gimmedats? California is the testing ground, and since it’s working so well at the moment, the model will spreading across the country so that everyone can experience the same joys of multiculturalism.

    • propagandaoftruth

      The People’s Soviet of New DiBlackistan is a good choice too.

  • dd121

    Good for California. Maybe they won’t come to Colorado.

    • The city and county of Denver is already full of them, as it is a “sanctuary” for criminal alien invaders.

      • Ella

        The border keeps moving North from Mexico, about 1000 miles currently.

  • Caucasoid88

    They come, drain resources, we leave. They starve, they follow, we leave. While this process continues ad infinitum, we are told we are oppressive, racist monsters who have stolen their land. How long will this go on?

    • MBlanc46

      Until we put a stop to it and take our country back?

    • Sid Ishus

      Until we assimilate.

  • connorhus

    And yet the left Multi-Cult still likes to spin the yarn about Red states receiving more welfare money. More lies, half truths and Enron accounting.

    • MBlanc46

      They always whine about Mississippi, without mentioning that MS is more than a third black.

    • 1G25

      Red states have many more than half the US military bases in the US… that money is counted into the tally.

      • connorhus

        That’s part of it. Red states also are where the real production comes from but not where the taxes are collected. Basically Blue enclaves are the grocery clerks who collect the bills and the Fed gov lets em keep more.

  • TomIron361

    : California’s High Welfare Benefits Attract New Immigrants
    Yep, and we here in nj ain’t far behind…

  • Give stuff away and freeloaders show up.

    Because, I would have never guessed on my own.

  • RacialRay

    This reminds me of those telecom companies that offer all sorts of freebies and lucrative inducements to “new customers only”, while essentially telling those who are already signed up, “tough darts”.

    If I slip into Mexico, drop my I.D. off down there and then sneak back over the border into Cali as RacialRamon, undocumented immigrant, can I have free stuff, too?

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Last weeks headline in the local Spanish rag in Atlanta screamed, “INMORAL.” Guess what was considered “immoral.”? The fact that reconquistas looking to get on the dole for everything were actually being charged $20.00 processing fee to get assistance fill out the forms for Medicaid, foodstamps, WIC, translation assistance and generally for the fact that others had to spend an inordinant amount time listening to them gripe.

    The Reconquistas actually had the nerve to approach a lawyer who told them, that although it was immoral to charge for assistance to fill out the forms for public assistance, it was not illegal.

  • IstvanIN

    This must be wrong. Presidents Obama and Bush both told us that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are a net benefit to the economy, pay taxes and create jobs.

    • If I take a trip back to Australia (I would need a “resident-return” visa) and buy something at a store there, I will pay a “Value Added Tax”. This entitles me to leave the store with my purchases, not to vote, collect welfare, or drive drunk and uninsured on their roads.

  • Stogumber

    The interesting point in my eyes: This system should have been self-destroying, but it still works. The Californian government is even today able to give a lot of goodies to its clients So the Californian Democrats must do something right, isn’t it?

    • Samuel Hathaway

      The CA Democrats don’t do so much right as using its now overwhelmingly Democratic congressional delegation in Washington DC to loot the federal treasury to bring home the bacon to keep the Reconquistadores mollified.

    • 1G25

      Yes, they do. Texas and other states’ tax money flows to Washington, where it is laundered and called “federal funds” when it is sent to California.

      No problemo, amigo.

    • John Jackson

      The thing with California is not fully about it’s govt, California has many advantages of geography. They have a lot of farmland, they obviously have a huge coastline which is used for ports, things of that sort.

      You can’t always look at a state’s success/failure and just base that on it’s form of govt. I have no doubt many companies would love to leave the state, but say you get your goods from overseas, you have to weigh the taxes in CA with what it would cost you to ship them somewhere else in the country.

      • Charles Martel

        Many stay for the “lifestyle.” Most tech companies are not dependent upon shipping a tangible product but don’t expect Facebook to relocate out of state any time soon.

  • mobilebay

    Can you believe that? Illegals breaking into the country for the goodies…what a surprise.

  • Ella

    Even the liberals flee CA for low-tax States and less population. What ever happened to the modest 60-300K white European immigrant quota p//y with no welfare monies?

  • ThatWhiteGuy

    File this under “News That Surprises Nobody.”

    • In another startling bit of news, restaurants in mountain towns here quickly discover that not securing their trash dumpsters will inevitably attract scavenging bears.

      • Ella

        Do the bears speak Spanish?

  • Raymond Kidwell

    Poor people follow around rich people. Usually if you live in a major city you have ultra rich and ultra poor side by side. Or in a very prosperous state or town you have the same. Whereas the middle class tend to keep to themselves. The reason is rich people just have more money to give away, in terms of donating clothes, time, money etc. to people. Rather panhandle among millionaires than among people barely getting by. Also the rich hire people to mow their grass and things like that.

    I saw this in Florida. I was a bit shocked by it. Why are ghettos right next to the millionaire areas? It’s basically how it works. You would assume that there would be some progession like this ultra rich– rich– middle class– poor etc. but it’s more like this rich–poor — middle class.

    Like in south florida I have seen the most disgusting nasty drug addict rednecks. Normally rednecks are polite, trustworthy, decent people. But around there they are the trashiest, most criminal, violent element. They all mow grass for rich people or work in the construction boom. When I was working at a construction site building million dollar homes I saw that there was urine in the closet of one of these homes (carpet wasn’t layed yet so it was on concrete). I thought an animal had gotten in. It was a construction worker. There was a port o potty right outside.

    So it seems like the lowest element typically follows around the rich people sort of like fleas on a dog. It’s not always for welfare but also for the jobs they offer.

    I’m dirt poor myself and have thought about california. If I have the freedom to I would definitely move to a rich area where there is more opportunity and more generous welfare. But to live in California you basically have to be homeless. I mean any gains you would get from welfare would be offset by the housing costs unless you were living on skid row or something where you’ll probably be shot within a year.

  • LexiconD1

    Well, Good luck to them. CA now has more people who TAKE a check from the government, whether that would be welfare, retirement, disability or what have you, than pay actual taxes.

    How sustainable will this be in say…five years, or less?

    The only thing that’s changed, since Brown became governor…is that someone applying, and receiving welfare benefits no longer have to prove citizenship. Hopefully, that changes with the next governor, but I doubt it. CA is a lost cause.

    • John Jackson

      Why hope it changes? I say let them crash, then the leeches will leave and the people actually work can rebuild.

      • LexiconD1

        Well, I do hope it goes down…but not until I’m out of here. Which may be a bit over a year…

        I’m a rarity here…a native. Plus, most of my family (all my immediate family) live here.

        • John Jackson

          Oh, I know, I hear you. I live in MI, about 35milies out of Detroit. I know everyone hears “MI” and they think ghetto Detroit, but actually our town has been farms for 100’s of years, and our family has lived here for over 150. I’m seriously being forced into thinking of moving, I hate it considering the family history, but most people only know the surface issues of Detroit.

          Many have no idea how those scum have left the city and moved into the surrounding towns and turned them into crap holes, heck most don’t even know about Wayne County, which is made up of many hard working towns that unfortunately have to pay taxes to Detroit even though we don’t get to vote in the elections, nice huh?

  • Who Me?

    “More welfare, more immigrants.”
    More bait, more mice

  • Drifter745

    Let me get this straight: immigrants with no skills, no education and of little value to the economy migrate to states that provide more money for doing nothing? I call BS. I don’t believe for one minute they would do that. (Sarcasm off)

  • mikefromwichita

    Simple Solution- any immigrant attempting to draw welfare is to be immediately deported.

  • SweetSharron

    Many receive the welfare and have members of their households working “under the table.” Governor Brown told illegal Mexican Aliens they were welcome in California, and he certainly has put “our” money where his “mouth” is. I am just getting pretty weary of being taxed to death to pay for his and President Obama’s “welcome mat” invitation for illegal foreign born. Especially, those that don’t work or work at such a low wage, they receive government benefits at the same time. As a trade to this “low wage” benefit for businesses, a higher waged American, without government benefits, has lost his job. As a result, the government is still sucking up more and more of our taxes to pay for this government caused atrocity.