1. bookVolume 45 (2019): Issue 1 (March 2019)
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2016
Publication timeframe
3 times per year
access type Open Access

Non-Take-Up of Social Assistance: Regional Differences and the Role of Social Norms

Published Online: 07 Apr 2019
Page range: 7 - 33
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2016
Publication timeframe
3 times per year

This study estimates the prevalence of non-take-up of social assistance using administrative data from the Canton of Bern. Regional variation in non-take-up rates is then used to study the contextual effects of social norms with respect to welfare receipt legitimacy. Social norms are proxied with the degree of urbanity, language regions and communal voter shares of left- and right-wing parties. Multiple regression analysis, extended by several robustness checks, suggests that social norms do indeed have an impact on take-up behavior.


Bargain, Olivier, Herwig Immervoll, and Heikki Viitamäki. 2012. No Claim, No Pain. Measuring the Non-Take-Up of Social Assistance Using Register Data. The Journal of Economic Inequality 10(3): 375–395.10.1007/s10888-010-9158-8Search in Google Scholar

Baumberg, Ben. 2016. The Stigma of Claiming Benefits: A Quantitative Study. Journal of Social Policy 45(2): 181–199.10.1017/S0047279415000525Search in Google Scholar

Becker, Irene and Richard Hauser. 2005. Dunkelziffer der Armut. Ausmass und Ursachen der Nicht-Inanspruchnahme zustehender Sozialhilfeleistungen. 1. Aufl. Berlin: edition sigma.Search in Google Scholar

BFS. 2013. Regional Portraits and Key Figures for Swiss Communities 2012. Statistischer Sozialbericht Schweiz 2015. Neuchâtel: Bundesamt für Statistik. https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/de/home/statistiken/regionalstatistik/regionale-portraets-kennzahlen/gemeinden/gemeindeportraets.html (20.02.2018).Search in Google Scholar

BKSE. 2016. Handbuch Sozialhilfe. Berner Konferenz für Sozialhilfe, Kindes- und Erwachsenenschutz (BKSE). http://handbuch.bernerkonferenz.ch/home/ (15.04.2016).Search in Google Scholar

Blank, Rebecca M. 1997. What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow? NBER Working Paper No. 6343. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.10.3386/w6343Search in Google Scholar

Bodenmann, Patrick, Hans Wolff, Thomas Bischoff, et al. 2014. Renoncement aux soins : comment appréhender cette réalité en médecine de premier recours ? Revue Médicale Suisse (10): 2258–2263.Search in Google Scholar

Bonvin, Jean-Michel, Felix Bühlmann, Fabrizio Butera, Jörg Dittman, Matthias Drilling, Carlo Knöpfel, Daniel Stöckling, Jean-Pierre Tabin, Anne Perriard, Emilie Rosenstein, Amal Tawfik and Emilio Paolo Visintin. 2015. Welfare Boundaries. Lausanne/Geneva: LIVES.Search in Google Scholar

Braun, Markus and Jan Boruvka. 2016. Angepasste Sozialhilfequote für den Kanton Bern, 2012. Neuchâtel: Bundesamt für Statistik.Search in Google Scholar

Bruckmeier, Kerstin and Jürgen Wiemers. 2012. A New Targeting: A New Take-Up? Empirical Economics 43(2): 565–580.10.1007/s00181-011-0505-9Search in Google Scholar

Champion, Cyrielle. 2011. Switzerland: A Latecomer Catching Up, Pp. 121–142 in Regulating the Risk of Unemployment: National Adaptations to Post-Industrial Labour Markets in Europe, edited by Jochen Clasen and Daniel Clegg. New York: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199592296.003.0007Search in Google Scholar

Contzen, Sandra. 2015. «Wir Sind Nicht Arm»! Diskursive Konstruktionen von Armut von Schweizer Bauernfamilien. Journal of Socio-Economics in Agriculture (8): 60–69.Search in Google Scholar

Crettaz, Eric, Thomas Jankowski, Tom Priester, Thomas Ruch, and Lukas Schweizer. 2009. Sozialhilfeund Armutsstatistik im Vergleich. Neuchâtel: Bundesamt für Statistik.Search in Google Scholar

Currie, Janet. 2004. The Take Up of Social Benefits. No. 1103. IZA Discussion Paper Series. http://www.nber.org/papers/w10488 (20.08.2015).Search in Google Scholar

Daponte, Beth Osborne, Seth Sanders, and Lowell Taylor. 1999. Why Do Low-Income Households Not Use Food Stamps? Evidence From an Experiment. Journal of Human Resources 34(3): 612–628.10.2307/146382Search in Google Scholar

Eurofond. 2015. Access to Social Benefits: Reducing Non-Take-Up. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Commission.Search in Google Scholar

Fivaz, Jan. 2015. Das sozialpolitische Profil des neuen Nationalrats. Soziale Sicherheit CHSS (6): 342–347.Search in Google Scholar

Fluder, Robert and Jürgen Stremlow. 1999. Armut und Bedürftigkeit: Herausforderungen für das kommunale Sozialwesen. P. Haupt.Search in Google Scholar

Frick, Joachim R. and Olaf Groh-Samberg. 2007. To Claim or Not to Claim: Estimating Non-Take-Up of Social Assistance in Germany and the Role of Measurement Error. SSRN Scholarly Paper, ID 1096449. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1096449 (17.02.2018).10.2139/ssrn.1096449Search in Google Scholar

Gelissen, John. 2000. Popular Support for Institutionalised Solidarity: A Comparison Between European Welfare States. International Journal of Social Welfare 9(4): 285–300.10.1111/1468-2397.00140Search in Google Scholar

Goffman, Erving. 1963. Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Touchstone.Search in Google Scholar

Harrington, Michael. 1962. The Other America; Poverty in the United States. New York: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Hermann, Michael and Heiri Leuthold. 2003. Atlas der politischen Landschaften: ein weltanschauliches Porträt der Schweiz. Zürich: vdf Hochschulverlag AG.Search in Google Scholar

Hernanz, Virginia, Franck Malherbet, and Michele Pellizzari. 2004. Take-Up of Welfare Benefits in OECD Countries: A Review of the Evidence. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 17. OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/525815265414 (20.08.2015).10.1787/525815265414(20.08.2015)Open DOISearch in Google Scholar

Hümbelin, Oliver and Rudolf Farys. 2016. The Suitability of Tax Data to Study Trends in Inequality. A Theoretical and Empirical Review With Tax Data From Switzerland. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 44: 136–150.10.1016/j.rssm.2016.04.004Search in Google Scholar

Jaeger, Mads Meier. 2006. What Makes People Support Public Responsibility for Welfare Provision: Self-Interest or Political Ideology? A Longitudinal Approach. Acta Sociologica 49(3): 321–338.10.1177/0001699306067718Search in Google Scholar

Jann, Ben. 2010. Robuste Regression. Pp. 707–740 in Handbuch Der Sozialwissenschaftlichen Daten analyse, edited by Christian Wolf and Henning Best. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.10.1007/978-3-531-92038-2_27Search in Google Scholar

Kayser, Hilke and Joachim R. Frick. 2000. Take It or Leave It: (Non-) Take-Up Behavior of Social Assistance in Germany. 210. DIW Discussion Papers. Berlin: Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW). http://hdl.handle.net/10419/18180 (18.08.2015).Search in Google Scholar

Knüsel, René and Annamaria Colombo. 2014. Accessibilité et non-recours aux services publics. Bruxelles: Les politiques sociales.10.3917/lps.143.0004Search in Google Scholar

Koller, Manuel and Werner A. Stahel. 2011. Sharpening Wald-Type Inference in Robust Regression for Small Samples. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 55(8): 2504–2515.10.1016/j.csda.2011.02.014Search in Google Scholar

Larsen, Christian Albrekt. 2008. The Political Logic of Labour Market Reforms and Popular Images of Target Groups. Journal of European Social Policy 18(1): 50–63.10.1177/0958928707084451Search in Google Scholar

Leresche, Frédérique and Jean-Pierre Tabin. 2016. Non-Recours et Travail Social. Actualité sociale (65): 18–19.Search in Google Scholar

Leu, Robert E., Stefan Burri, and Tom Priester. 1997. Lebensqualität und Armut in der Schweiz. Bern: Haupt.Search in Google Scholar

Linder, Wolf, Regula Zürcher, and Christian Bolliger. 2008. Gespaltene Schweiz – geeinte Schweiz: Gesellschaftliche Spaltungen und Konkordanz bei den Volksabstimmungen seit 1874. Baden: Hier+Jetzt, Verlag für Kultur und Geschichte.Search in Google Scholar

Link, Bruce G. and Jo C. Phelan. 2001. Conceptualizing Stigma. Annual Review of Sociology 27: 363–385.10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.363Search in Google Scholar

Lucas, Barbara, Catherine Ludwig, Eric Crettaz, Jérome Chapuis, Audrey Magat, Aude Maryse Bourgeois, and Maxime Walder. 2015. Le non-recours aux prestations sociales à Genève. Genève: Haute école de travail social Genève. https://www.hesge.ch/hets/recherche-developpement/projets-recherche/en-cours/non-recours-aux-prestations-sociales-geneve (21.02.2018).Search in Google Scholar

MacDonald, Robert, Tracy Shildrick, and Andy Furlong. 2014 .”Benefits Street” and the Myth of Workless Communities. Sociological Research Online 19(3): 1.10.5153/sro.3438Search in Google Scholar

Moffitt, Robert. 1983. An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma. The American Economic Review 73(5): 1023–1035.Search in Google Scholar

Neuenschwander, Peter, Oliver Hümbelin, Marc Kalbermatter, and Rosmarie Ruder. 2012. Der schwere Gang zum Sozialdienst: Wie Betroffene das Aufnahmeverfahren der Sozialhilfe erleben. Zürich: Seismo.Search in Google Scholar

Odenore. 2012. L’envers de la « fraude sociale ». Le scandale du non-recours aux droits sociaux. Paris: La Découverte.Search in Google Scholar

Rennwald, Line and Adrian Zimmermann. 2016. Der Wahlentscheid der Arbeiter in der Schweiz,Search in Google Scholar

1971–2011. 4. Social Change in Switzerland.http://socialchangeswitzerland.ch (28.04.2016).Search in Google Scholar

Riphahn, Regina T. 2001. Rational Poverty or Poor Rationality? The Take-Up of Social Assistance Benefits. Review of Income and Wealth 47(3): 379–398.10.1111/1475-4991.00023Search in Google Scholar

Roosma, Femke, Wim van Oorschot, and John Gelissen. 2016. The Achilles’ Heel of Welfare State Legitimacy: Perceptions of Overuse and Underuse of Social Benefits in Europe. Journal of European Public Policy 23(2): 177–196.10.1080/13501763.2015.1031157Search in Google Scholar

Rousseeuw, P., C. Croux, V. Todorov, A. Ruckstuhl, M. Salibian-Barrera, T. Verbeke, M. Maechler, and M. Koller. 2015. Robustbase: Basic Robust Statistics. R package.Search in Google Scholar

Sage, Daniel. 2012. Fair Conditions and Fair Consequences? Exploring New Labour, Welfare Contractualism and Social Attitudes. Social Policy and Society 11(3): 359–373.10.1017/S1474746412000012Search in Google Scholar

Schuwey, Claudia and Carlo Knöpfel. 2014. Neues Handbuch Armut in der Schweiz. Luzern: Caritas-Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

SKOS. 2016. Das soziale Existenzminimum der Sozialhilfe. Bern: Schweizerische Konferenz für Sozialhilfe(SKOS).Search in Google Scholar

Staerklé, Christian, Tiina Likki, and Régis Scheidegger. 2012. A Normative Approach to Welfare Attitudes, in Contested Welfare States: Welfare Attitudes in Europe and Beyond, edited by Stefan Svallfors. California: Stanford University Press.10.11126/stanford/9780804782524.003.0004Search in Google Scholar

Tabin, Jean-Pierre and Frédérique Leresche. 2016. Le non-recours aux prestations sociales, ce mystère. Reiso.org Revue d’information sociale.https://www.reiso.org/articles/themes/politiques/442-le-nonrecours-aux-prestations-sociales-ce-mystere (09.02.2018).Search in Google Scholar

UCLA. 2018. Regression With Stata Chapter 2 – Regression Diagnostics. IDRE Stats: Institute for Digital Research and Education (UCLA). https://stats.idre.ucla.edu/stata/webbooks/reg/chapter2/stata-webbooksregressionwith-statachapter-2-regression-diagnostics/ (28.02.2018).Search in Google Scholar

Van Oorschot, Wim. 2002. Targeting Welfare: On the Functions and Dysfunctions of Means-Testing in Social Policy. Pp. 171–193 in World Poverty: New Policies to Defeat an Old Enemy, edited by Peter Townsend and David Gorden. Bristol: Policy Press.10.1332/policypress/9781861343956.003.0008Search in Google Scholar

Van Oorschot, Wim. 1998. Failing Selectivity: On the Extent and Causes of Non-Take-Up of Social Security Benefits. Pp. 101–132 in Empirical Poverty Research in a Comparative Perspective, edited by H.-J. Andress. Ashgate: Aldershot.10.4324/9780429442001-5Search in Google Scholar

Van Oorschot, Wim. 1991. Non-Take-Up of Social Security Benefits in Europe. Journal of European Social Policy 1(1): 15–30.10.1177/095892879100100103Search in Google Scholar

Van Oorschot, Wim, Femke Roosma, Bart Meuleman, and Tim Reeskens. 2017. The Social Legitimacy of Targeted Welfare: Attitudes to Welfare Deservingness. Cheltenham, Glos, UK; Northampton, Massachusetts, USA: Edward Elgar Pub.10.4337/9781785367212Search in Google Scholar

Wacquant, Loïc. 2009. Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity. Durham London: Duke University Press Books.10.1215/9780822392255Search in Google Scholar

Walker, Robert, Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, Elaine Chase, Sohail Choudhry, Erika K. Gubrium, Jo Yongmie Nicola, Ivar LøDemel, Mathew Leemamol, Mwiine Amon, and Pellissery Sony. 2013. Poverty in Global Perspective: Is Shame a Common Denominator? Journal of Social Policy 42(02): 215–233.10.1017/S0047279412000979Search in Google Scholar

Warin, Philippe. 2016. Le non-recours aux politiques sociales. Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble. https://www.pug.fr/produit/1302/9782706125720/Le%20non-recours%20aux%20politiques%20sociales%20%20 (09.02.2018).Search in Google Scholar

Whelan, Stephen. 2010. The Take-Up of Means-Tested Income Support. Empirical Economics 39(3): 847–875.10.1007/s00181-009-0329-zSearch in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo