Participation in Social Programs by Consumers and Companies
Lifeline is a unique nationwide public assistance program created by the Federal Communications Commission to provide price discounts to low-income telephone subscribers. Recently there has been concern that program participation rates are low and that there is great variation in participation across states. We examine the Lifeline Program to explain why people do not participate in a program that provides them with financial benefits. Using state-level panel data, we consider reasons Lifeline participation varies among states and why only approximately one-third of eligible households nationwide enroll in the program. We find that participation is actually closely aligned with what is predicted given state characteristics when we control for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. We also find that in addition to the demographic factors affecting participation, telecommunications companies appear to affect Lifeline participation rates.
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