Social Image Concerns and Welfare Take-Up


Friedrichsen, Jana (DIW Berlin and HU Berlin)
König, Tobias (WZB Berlin and HU Berlin)
Schmacker, Renke (DIW Berlin)


Using a laboratory experiment, we present first evidence that social image concerns causally reduce the take-up of an individually beneficial transfer. Our design manipulates the informativeness of the take-up decision by varying whether transfer eligibility is based on ability or luck, and how the transfer is financed. We find that subjects avoid the inference both of being low-skilled (ability stigma) and of being willing to live off others (free-rider stigma). Using a placebo treatment, we exclude other explanations for the observed stigma effects. Although stigma reduces take-up, elicitation of political preferences reveals that only a minority of “taxpayers” vote for the public transfer.


stigma; signaling; redistribution; non take-up; welfare program


C91; D03; H31; I38


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Social Image Concerns and Welfare Take-Up
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