IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Caught in the trap? Welfare's disincentive and the labor supply of single men


  • Bargain, Olivier
  • Doorley, Karina


Youth unemployment is particularly large in many industrialized countries and has dramatic consequences in both the short and long-term. While there is abundant evidence about the labor supply of married women and single mothers, little is known about how young (childless) singles react to financial incentives. The French minimum income (Revenu Minimum d'Insertion, RMI), often accused of generating strong disincentives to work, offers a natural setting to study this question since childless single individuals, primarily males, constitute the core group of recipients. Exploiting the fact that childless adults under age 25 are not eligible for this program, we conduct a regression discontinuity analysis using French Census data. We find that the RMI reduces the participation of uneducated single men by 7–10% at age 25. We conduct an extensive robustness check and discuss the implications of our results for youth unemployment and current policy developments.

Suggested Citation

  • Bargain, Olivier & Doorley, Karina, 2011. "Caught in the trap? Welfare's disincentive and the labor supply of single men," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1096-1110.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:9:p:1096-1110 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.05.007

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan S. Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2009. "Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 35-52, April.
    2. Puglisi Riccardo, 2011. "Being The New York Times: the Political Behaviour of a Newspaper," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34, April.
    3. Fair, Ray C, 1978. "The Effect of Economic Events on Votes for President," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 159-173, May.
    4. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234.
    5. Matthew Gentzkow & Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Rise of the Fourth Estate. How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered," NBER Chapters,in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 187-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bernhardt, Dan & Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias, 2008. "Political polarization and the electoral effects of media bias," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1092-1104, June.
    7. Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1191-1237.
    8. Valentino Larcinese, 2003. "The Instrumental Voter Goes to the News-Agent: Demand for Information, Election Closeness, and the Media," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 579.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:02:p:567-573_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
    11. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, January.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:02:p:381-394_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Simon P. Anderson & John McLaren, 2012. "Media Mergers And Media Bias With Rational Consumers," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 831-859, August.
    14. David Strömberg, 2004. "Mass Media Competition, Political Competition, and Public Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 265-284.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Olivier Bargain & Andreas Peichl, 2016. "Own-wage labor supply elasticities: variation across time and estimation methods," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, December.
    2. Doris, Aedin & O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2017. "Does Reducing Unemployment Benefits During a Recession Reduce Youth Unemployment? Evidence from a 50% Cut in Unemployment Assistance," IZA Discussion Papers 10727, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Leibbrandt, Murray & Lilenstein, Kezia & Shenker, Callie & Woolard, Ingrid, 2013. "The influence of social transfers on labour supply: A South African and international review," SALDRU Working Papers 112, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    4. YUGAMI Kazufumi & MORIMOTO Atsushi & TANAKA Yoshiyuki, 2017. "Welfare Benefits and Labor Supply: Evidence from a natural experiment in Japan," Discussion papers 17109, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    5. BARGAIN Olivier & DOORLEY Karina, 2016. "The Effect of Social Benefits on Youth Employment: Combining RD and a Behavioral Model," LISER Working Paper Series 2016-12, LISER.
    6. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency," CESifo Working Paper Series 3534, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Bergolo, Marcelo & Cruces, Guillermo, 2016. "The Anatomy of Behavioral Responses to Social Assistance When Informal Employment Is High," IZA Discussion Papers 10197, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Remmerswaal, Minke & Boone, Jan & Bijlsma, Michiel & Douven, R.C.M.H., 2017. "Cost-Sharing Design Matters : A Comparison of the Rebate and Deductible in Healthcare," Discussion Paper 2017-049, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    9. Bargain, Olivier & Doorley, Karina, 2013. "Putting Structure on the RD Design: Social Transfers and Youth Inactivity in France," IZA Discussion Papers 7508, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. repec:spr:izalpo:v:6:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40173-017-0089-x is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Regression discontinuity; Welfare; Social assistance; Labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:9:p:1096-1110. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.