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No Claim, No Pain: Measuring the Non-Take-up of Social Assistance Using Register Data

Author

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  • Bargain, Olivier

    () (University of Bordeaux)

  • Immervoll, Herwig

    () (OECD)

  • Viitamäki, Heikki

    () (VATT, Helsinki)

Abstract

The main objectives of social assistance benefits, including poverty alleviation and labor-market or social reintegration, can be seriously compromised if support is difficult to access. While recent studies point to high non-take-up rates, existing evidence does not make full use of the information recorded by benefit agencies. Most studies have to rely on interview-based data, with misreporting and measurement errors affecting the variables needed to establish both benefit receipt and benefit entitlement. In this paper, we exploit a unique combination of Finnish administrative data and eligibility simulations based on the tax-benefit calculator of the Finnish authorities, carefully investigating the measurement issues that remain. We find rates of non-take-up that are both substantial and robust: 40% to 50% of those eligible do not claim. Using repeated cross-section estimations for years 1996-2003, we identify a set of stable determinants of claiming behavior and suggest that changes in behavior could drive the observed downward trend in take-up rates during the post-recession period. We discuss the poverty implications of our results.

Suggested Citation

  • Bargain, Olivier & Immervoll, Herwig & Viitamäki, Heikki, 2010. "No Claim, No Pain: Measuring the Non-Take-up of Social Assistance Using Register Data," IZA Discussion Papers 5355, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5355
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruth Hancock & Stephen Pudney & Geraldine Barker & Monica Hernandez & Holly Sutherland, 2004. "The Take-Up of Multiple Means-Tested Benefits by British Pensioners: Evidence from the Family Resources Survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(3), pages 279-303, September.
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    9. Gustafsson, Bjorn, 1984. "Macroeconomic performance, old age security and the rate of social assistance recipients in Sweden," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 319-338, December.
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    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
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    Cited by:

    1. James Browne & Herwig Immervoll, 2017. "Mechanics of replacing benefit systems with a basic income: comparative results from a microsimulation approach," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 15(4), pages 325-344, December.
    2. repec:eee:hepoli:v:121:y:2017:i:7:p:778-785 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:bla:jcmkts:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:240-256 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Herwig Immervoll & Stephen P. Jenkins & Sebastian Königs, 2015. "Are Recipients of Social Assistance 'Benefit Dependent'?: Concepts, Measurement and Results for Selected Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 162, OECD Publishing.
    5. Tasseva, Iva Valentinova, 2016. "Evaluating the performance of means-tested benefits in Bulgaria," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 919-935.
    6. Herber, Stefanie P. & Kalinowski, Michael, 2016. "Non-take-up of Student Financial Aid: A Microsimulation for Germany," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145727, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Sylvain Chareyron & David Gray & Yannick L'Horty, 2017. "Raising the take-up of social assistance benefits through a simple mailing: evidence from a French field experiment," TEPP Working Paper 2017-01, TEPP.
    8. Angelo Spano & Ugo Trivellato & Nadir Zanini, 2013. "Le esperienze italiane di misure di contrasto alla povertà: che cosa possiamo imparare?," ECONOMIA E SOCIETÀ REGIONALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(2), pages 141-180.
    9. Figari, Francesco & Paulus, Alari & Sutherland, Holly, 2014. "Microsimulation and policy analysis," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    10. Julie Janssens & Natascha Van Mechelen, 2017. "Who is to Blame? An Overview of the Factors Contributing to the Non-Take-Up of Social Rights," Working Papers 1708, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    11. Marjolijn De Wilde & Peter Goos, 2017. "The Implementation of Social Policy: A Factorial Survey Approach," Working Papers 1706, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    12. Arrighi, Yves & Davin, Bérengère & Trannoy, Alain & Ventelou, Bruno, 2015. "The non-take up of long-term care benefit in France: A pecuniary motive?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(10), pages 1338-1348.
    13. Luis Ayala & Elena Bárcena-Martín, 2016. "A unified approach for measuring welfare protection under a decentralized framework," Working Papers 405, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    14. Stefanie P. Herber & Michael Kalinowski, 2016. "Non-Take-Up of Student Financial Aid: A Microsimulation for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 844, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    15. Sylvain Chareyron & Patrick Domingues, 2015. "Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits: The case of Homeless," TEPP Working Paper 2015-07, TEPP.
    16. Palviainen Heikki, 2018. "Evaluation of the Finnish Income Disregard Reform," Working Papers 1819, University of Tampere, School of Management, Economics.
    17. Natascha Van Mechelen & Sarah Marchal & Tim Goedemé & Ive Marx & Bea Cantillon, 2011. "The CSB-Minimum Income Protection Indicators dataset (CSB-MIPI)," Working Papers 1105, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    18. repec:eee:wdevel:v:97:y:2017:i:c:p:165-177 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Herber, Stefanie P. & Kalinowski, Michael, 2016. "Non-take-up of student financial aid: A microsimulation for Germany," BERG Working Paper Series 109, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    20. Anthony B. Atkinson & Chrysa Leventi & Brian Nolan & Holly Sutherland & Iva Tasseva, 2017. "Reducing poverty and inequality through tax-benefit reform and the minimum wage: the UK as a case-study," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 15(4), pages 303-323, December.
    21. Sylvain Chareyron, 2015. "Take-up of social assistance benefits: The case of homeless Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits: The Case of Homeless," Working Papers hal-01292107, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    poverty; take-up; social assistance; register data;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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