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The Psychology of Administrative Burden

The Psychology of Administrative Burden

Objective

The burdens of dealing with administrative rules and red tape in government are a fact of life around the world, ranging from small hassles to heavy burdens in the form of stigmatizing processes of proving eligibility and facing potential sanctions. In light of the immense importance of such burdens for millions of people and for the effectiveness of benefit programs, we know surprisingly little about the conditions that give rise to experiences of burden. POAB combines and extends extant theory and uses a unique combination of experimental methods and data to explain how, why, and for whom administrative rules are experienced as burdensome.

POAB studies comprehensive rules regarding unemployment and social benefits and will provide novel register, physiological, and survey measures of welfare benefit recipients’ experiences of burden. I develop and test three theories to explain differences in experiences of burden: 1) How resource scarcity causes cognitive load and hence reduces the ability to cope with rules; 2) How self-efficacy increases the ability to cope with rules; and 3) How perceptions of being undeserving cause stigma and stress.

POAB analyses the causal impact of rules on burden. To this end, I use a unique combination of complementary experimental methods in political science: 1) Cross-national lab experiments with physiological measurement and manipulations of rules, scarcity, efficacy and deservingness perceptions; 2) Cross-national survey experiments to assess different aspects of rules in different contexts; 3) Quasi- and field experiments to assess the impact of rules on register measures of burdens in a real-world context.

POAB offers a fundamentally new interdisciplinary approach by bridging the gap between research on administrative burdens and psychological perspectives. The project’s output will provide profound knowledge of citizens’ experiences of burden and the inequalities in such experiences among recipients of major welfare benefits.
Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Host institution

AARHUS UNIVERSITET

Address

Nordre Ringgade 1
8000 Aarhus C

Denmark

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 499 611

Beneficiaries (1)

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AARHUS UNIVERSITET

Denmark

EU Contribution

€ 1 499 611

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 802244

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 February 2019

  • End date

    31 January 2024

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 499 611

  • EU contribution

    € 1 499 611

Hosted by:

AARHUS UNIVERSITET

Denmark