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Stigma and the take-up of social programs

  • Ewoudou, Jacques
  • Tsimpo, Clarence
  • Wodon, Quentin

Empirical studies send mixed messages as to the magnitude of social stigma associated with the take-up of social transfers and the impact of stigma on take-up. These mixed signals may be related to the fact that stigma and program participation are likely to be jointly determined. If there is a high (low) degree of participation in a program, stigma is likely to be lower (higher) due at least in part to that high (low) degree of participation. This is because the more eligible persons participate, the less one can single out specific individuals for stigma because they use the program. This note suggests this theoretically with a simple model showing that we may have in an idealized setting two equilibria: one with stigma and zero participation in a social program, and one with perfect participation and no stigma.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4962.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4962
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  1. Currie, Janet, 2004. "The Take-Up of Social Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 1103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
  3. Pudney, Stephen & Monica Hernandez & Ruth Hancock, 2003. "The Welfare Cost of Means-Testing: Pensioner Participation in Income Support," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 171, Royal Economic Society.
  4. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  5. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2003. "Are People Ashamed of Paying with Food Stamps?," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 203-225.
  6. 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.
  7. Arik Levinson and Sjamsu Rahardja, 2004. "Medicaid Stigma," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-06, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  8. P. Diamond, 1980. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Working papers 268, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Monica Hernandez & Stephen Pudney & Ruth Hancock, 2006. "The Welfare Cost of Means Testing: Pensioner Participation in Income," Working Papers 2006004, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2006.
  10. 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 379-98, September.
  11. Bingley, Paul & Walker, Ian, 2001. "Housing Subsidies and Work Incentives in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(471), pages C86-103, May.
  12. 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.
  13. Jennifer Stuber & Karl Kronebusch, 2004. "Stigma and other determinants of participation in TANF and Medicaid," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 509-530.
  14. Echenique, Federico & Edlin, Aaron S., 2004. "Mixed equilibria are unstable in games of strategic complements," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt1ht651hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
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