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Who’s declining the “free lunch”? New evidence from the uptake of public child dental benefits

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  • Nguyen, Ha Trong
  • Le, Huong Thu
  • Connelly, Luke B.

Abstract

Recent economic literature has advanced the notion that cognitive biases and behavioural barriers may be important influencers of uptake decisions in respect of public programs that are designed to help disadvantaged people. This paper provides the first evidence on the determinants of uptake of two recent public dental benefit programs for Australian children and adolescents from disadvantaged families. Using longitudinal data from a nationally representative survey linked to administrative data with accurate information on eligibility and uptake, we find that only a third of all eligible families actually claim their benefits. These actual uptake rates are about half of the targeted access rates that were announced for them. We provide new and robust evidence consistent with the idea that cognitive biases and behavioural factors are barriers to uptake. For instance, mothers with worse mental health or riskier lifestyles are much less likely to claim the available benefits for their children. These barriers to uptake are particularly large in magnitude: together they reduce the uptake rate by up to 10 percentage points (or 36%). We also find some indicative evidence about the presence of the lack of information barrier to uptake. The results are robust to a wide range of sensitivity checks, including controlling for possible endogenous sample selection.

Suggested Citation

  • Nguyen, Ha Trong & Le, Huong Thu & Connelly, Luke B., 2020. "Who’s declining the “free lunch”? New evidence from the uptake of public child dental benefits," GLO Discussion Paper Series 501, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:501
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    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 8th March 2021
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-03-08 12:00:01

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government Programs; Impact Evaluation; Dental Health; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs; Australia; Uptake; Take-up;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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