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Why Do Policymakers Support Administrative Burdens? The Roles of Deservingness, Political Ideology, and Personal Experience

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  • Martin Bækgaard
  • Donald Patrick Moynihan, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University
  • ,
  • Mette Kjærgaard Thomsen, University of Southern Denmark

Administrative burdens affect peoples' experience of public administration but there is, to date, limited evidence to as why policymakers are willing to accept and impose burdens. To address this gap, we draw from the policy design and administrative burden literatures to develop the concept of burden tolerance - the willingness of policymakers and people more generally to passively allow or actively impose state actions that result in others experiencing administrative burdens. Drawing on a survey experiment and observational data with Danish local politicians in a social welfare setting, we find that more right-wing politicians are more tolerant of burdens, but politicians are less willing to impose burdens on a welfare claimant perceived as being more deserving. Politicians with a personal experience of receiving welfare benefits themselves are less tolerant of burdens, while information about the psychological costs experienced by claimants did not reduce burden tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Pages (from-to)184-200
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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