Research / BFI Working PaperAug 03, 2022

Stigma in Welfare Programs

Pablo A. Celhay, Bruce Meyer, Nikolas Mittag

Stigma of welfare participation is important for policy and survey design, because it deters program take-up and increases misreporting. Stigma is also relevant to the literature on social image concerns, yet empirical evidence is scant because stigma is difficult to empirically identify. We use a novel approach to studying stigma by examining the relationship between program participation in a recipient’s local network and underreporting program participation in surveys. We find a robust negative relationship and rule out explanations other than stigma. Stigma decreases when more peers engage in the stigmatized behavior and when such actions are less observable.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Mar 28, 2022

The Change in Poverty from 1995 to 2016 Among Single Parent Families

Kevin Corinth, Bruce Meyer, Derek Wu
Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty
BFI Working Paper Mar 27, 2023

Life and Death at the Margins of Society: The Mortality of the U.S. Homeless Population

Bruce Meyer, Angela Wyse, Ilina Logani
Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty
BFI Working Paper Aug 30, 2021

Errors in Reporting and Imputation of Government Benefits and Their Implications

Pablo A. Celhay, Bruce Meyer, Nikolas Mittag
Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty, Fiscal Studies