This study examines the causal effects of welfare benefits on internal migration decisions. Using a quasi-experimental migration reform across 283 Chinese cities from 2002 to 2015, combined with a difference-in-differences setup, I show that improved welfare benefits substantially increase migration. The observed impact is more pronounced for individuals such as the young, women and medium-low-skilled workers. It is relatively smaller in destinations exposed to larger positive demand shocks, suggesting that improved welfare benefits reduce migration costs. And it persists over the long term. All these findings confirm the existence of sizable welfare magnet effects.
Welfare Magnets Internal Migration China Difference-in-differences