August 2006

IZA DP No. 2266: State Dependence in Canadian Welfare Participation

published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2014, 39, 81-105

This paper analyzes transitions into and out-of Social Assistance in Canada. We estimate a dynamic Probit model, controlling for endogenous initial conditions and unobserved heterogeneity, using longitudinal data extracted from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) for the years 1993-2000. The data indicates that there are substantial provincial differences in social assistance participation. The empirical results indicate that a “welfare trap” does exist in Canada, but the extent of it varies across provinces. The results also suggest that there is a link between provincial variations in structural and spurious state dependence and regional differences in welfare generosity. In particular, the existence of structural state dependence, or a “welfare trap”, appears to be more likely in provinces with relatively high benefit levels. One implication of this result is that a change in the welfare benefit structure is not likely to lower participation as significantly among less generous provinces as more generous ones.