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Unpacking the effects of burdensome state actions on citizens' policy perceptions

In this article, Martin Sievert and Jonas Bruder investigated whether and how administrative burdens influences citizens' perceptions of welfare policies and attitudes towards beneficiaries.

Martin Sievert, Jonas Bruder
03 September 2023
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Administrative burdens appear to influence citizens' perceptions of welfare policies and attitudes toward beneficiaries. However, empirical evidence that has disentangled different state actions' effects on policy perceptions is scarce. Martin Sievert and Jonas Bruder applied a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial survey experiment and manipulated the conceptually distinct state actions implemented in German unemployment benefits.

They investigated whether and how exposure to learning demands, compliance demands, and sanctions affected citizens' prejudices against beneficiaries, policy support, and perceived legitimacy. The results from a sample of 1602 German citizens indicate that those confronted with program sanctions exhibit less policy support and expect higher policy spending. Similarly, sanctions decreased the Federal Employment Agency's perceived legitimacy. These results have implications for administrative burden and policy feedback research. Distinguishing different state actions provides nuances to assess policy feedback effects. Practitioners should consider whether program sanctions are necessary because they evoke unintended policy feedback effects.

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