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Raising the take-up of social assistance benefits through a simple mailing: evidence from a French field experiment

Listed author(s):
  • Sylvain Chareyron
  • David Gray
  • Yannick L'Horty

This paper is related to the phenomenon puzzling unduly low take-up rate for social assistance benefits in France. In order to investigate this phenomenon, we conduct an experimental evaluation in the form of a randomized control trial involving the influences of informational availability and complexity. We examine the impact of a change in the information set which is sent to these households just after they claim the benefit, seeking a behavioral response to this particular ‘nudge’. Our findings suggest that a costless action on the part of program administrators is able to substantially increase take-up for certain types of beneficiaries. In order to be effective, these actions should target households according to their individual attributes.

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File URL: http://www.tepp-repec.eu/RePEc/files/teppwp/TEPP-wp-17-01-sc-dg-yl.pdf
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Paper provided by TEPP in its series TEPP Working Paper with number 2017-01.

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Date of creation: 2017
Handle: RePEc:tep:teppwp:wp17-01
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Université Paris-Est Marne La Vallée, 5 bd Descartes, 77454 Champs sur Marne

Web page: http://www.tepp.eu/

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  1. Robert French & Philip Oreopoulos, 2016. "Applying Behavioral Economics to Public Policy in Canada," NBER Working Papers 22671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2015. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 275-299, February.
  3. Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Details Matter: The Impact of Presentation and Information on the Take-Up of Financial Incentives for Retirement Saving," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 204-228, February.
  4. Olivier Bargain & Herwig Immervoll & Heikki Viitamäki, 2012. "No claim, no pain. Measuring the non-take-up of social assistance using register data," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(3), pages 375-395, September.
  5. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
  6. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2008. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1373-1414.
  7. Beth Osborne Daponte & Seth Sanders & Lowell Taylor, 1999. "Why Do Low-Income Households not Use Food Stamps? Evidence from an Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 612-628.
  8. Sylvain Chareyron, 2014. "Le non-recours au RSA « socle seul » : l’hypothèse du patrimoine," TEPP Research Report 2014-03, TEPP.
  9. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The role of information and social interactions in retirement plan decisions: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00141, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Saurabh Bhargava & Dayanand Manoli, 2015. "Psychological Frictions and the Incomplete Take-Up of Social Benefits: Evidence from an IRS Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3489-3529, November.
  11. Sylvain Chareyron & Patrick Domingues, 2015. "Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits: The case of Homeless," TEPP Working Paper 2015-07, TEPP.
  12. Saurabh Bhargava & George Loewenstein, 2015. "Behavioral Economics and Public Policy 102: Beyond Nudging," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 396-401, May.
  13. Cass Sunstein, 2014. "Nudging: A Very Short Guide," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 583-588, December.
  14. Bertrand, Marianne & Shafir, Eldar & Mullainathan, Sendhil, 2006. "Behavioral Economics and Marketing in Aid of Decision Making Among the Poor," Scholarly Articles 2962609, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Riphahn, Regina T, 2001. "Rational Poverty or Poor Rationality? The Take-Up Study of Social Assistance Benefits," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(3), pages 379-398, September.
  16. Damon Jones, 2010. "Information, Preferences, and Public Benefit Participation: Experimental Evidence from the Advance EITC and 401(k) Savings," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 147-163, April.
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