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Rational Poverty or Poor Rationality? The Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits

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  • Riphahn, Regina T.

    () (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

Abstract

In several countries social assistance dependence has been increasing since the 1980s. After surveying the theoretical and empirical take-up literature, this study presents estimates of recent rates of non take-up of social assistance benefits. Once methodological shortcomings of prior estimations are corrected, the results show that take-up has fallen recently and thus cannot explain the rising welfare receipt. Following theoretical predictions, the probability that a rational individual takes up social assistance increases with the expected benefit amount and duration, and falls with application cost and stigma. More than half of all households eligible for transfers under the German social assistance program did not claim their benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Riphahn, Regina T., 2000. "Rational Poverty or Poor Rationality? The Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 124, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marlene Kim & Thanos Mergoupis, 1995. "The Working Poor and Welfare Recipiency," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_151, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Rebecca Blank & David Card, 1988. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," Working Papers 623, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. Blundell, Richard & Fry, Vanessa & Walker, Ian, 1987. "Modelling the Take-up of Means-tested Benefits: the Case of Housing Benefits in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(390), pages 58-74, Supplemen.
    4. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1023-1035.
    5. Rebecca M. Blank & David E. Card, 1991. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1157-1189.
    6. Rebecca M. Blank & Patricia Ruggles, 1996. "When Do Women Use Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility Versus Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 57-89.
    7. Patricia M. Anderson & Bruce D. Meyer, 1997. "Unemployment Insurance Takeup Rates and the After-Tax Value of Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 913-937.
    8. McCall, Brian P, 1995. "The Impact of Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels on Recipiency," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 189-198, April.
    9. Duclos, Jean-Yves, 1995. "Modelling the take-up of state support," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 391-415.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Almas Heshmati, 2006. "Continental And Sub-Continental Income Inequality," The IUP Journal of Applied Economics, IUP Publications, vol. 0(1), pages 7-52, January.
    2. César Martinelli & Susan Wendy Parker, 2009. "Deception and Misreporting in a Social Program," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 886-908, June.
    3. Bargain, Olivier & Immervoll, Herwig & Viitamäki, Heikki, 2007. "How Tight Are Safety-Nets in Nordic Countries? Evidence from Finnish Register Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3004, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Müller, Kai-Uwe & Steiner, Viktor, 2008. "Would a Legal Minimum Wage Reduce Poverty? A Microsimulation Study for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2004. "The Determinants of Participation in a Social Program: Evidence from a Prototypical Job Training Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 243-298, April.
    6. Immervoll, Herwig & O'Donoghue, Cathal, 2002. "Welfare benefits and work incentives: an analysis of the distribution of net replacement rates in Europe using EUROMOD, a multi-country microsimulation model," EUROMOD Working Papers EM4/01, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    7. Stephen Pudney & Monica Hernandez & Ruth Hancock, 2007. "The welfare cost of means-testing: pensioner participation in income support," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., pages 581-598.
    8. Hilke Almut Kayser & Joachim R. Frick, 2000. "Take It or Leave It: (Non-) Take-up Behavior of Social Assistance in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 210, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Colleen Flaherty & Kevin Mumford, 2007. "Separating Psychological Costs from Time Costs: Female Labor Supply and Participation in Food Stamps and WIC," Discussion Papers 06-024, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    10. Pio Baake & Vanessa von Schlippenbach, 2008. "Upfront Payments and Listing Decisions," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 793, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    11. Bruckmeier, Kerstin & Wiemers, Jürgen, 2011. "A new targeting - a new take-up? : non-take-up of social assistance in Germany after social policy reforms," IAB Discussion Paper 201110, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    12. Joachim R. Frick & Olaf Groh-Samberg, 2007. "To Claim or Not to Claim: Estimating Non-take-up of Social Assistance in Germany and the Role of Measurement Error," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 734, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    13. Kai-Uwe Müller & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Would a Legal Minimum Wage Reduce Poverty?: A Microsimulation Study for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 791, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    14. Kerstin Bruckmeier & Jürgen Wiemers, 2010. "A New Targeting - A New Take-Up?: Non-take-up of Social Assistance in Germany after Social Policy Reforms," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 294, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    15. Wilde Joachim & Kubis Alexander, 2005. "Nichtinanspruchnahme von Sozialhilfe. Eine empirische Analyse des Unerwarteten / Non-take-up Behavior of Social Assistance in Germany. An Empirical Investigation of Unexpected Reactions," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 225(3), pages 347-373, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Take-up; transfer program; social assistance; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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