Governments across the world are responsible for providing essential services such as health care and unemployment benefits to their citizens. These are hugely important services that shape many people’s health and wellbeing. At the same time, encounters with government are often filled with administrative burdens. Relying on surveys conducted in Belgium, Denmark, and the US, a systematic literature review as well as official population registries, this dissertation contributes to the rapidly developing literature on such administrative burdens by examining two topics that have only received scant attention so far. The first topic is the role of frontline employees in shaping administrative burdens. The dissertation finds that unemployment caseworkers respond to citizens’ communication of psychological costs by lowering the demands the citizens face. Doctors display a similar responsiveness to citizens’ needs in response to a policy change that makes it more burdensome for citizens to use health services. This illustrates that implementation practices at the frontline are among the most important components when designing policies that seek to minimize administrative burdens. The dissertation also studies the puzzling question of support for administrative burdens: Who supports their existence? It finds that members of the public who are liberal, support social policies, have personal experiences with public policies, and a low income are less supportive of administrative burdens, while policymakers become more acceptant of burdens when provided with a justification for the existence of burdens. This highlights that both personal characteristics and characteristics of policies shape support for administrative burdens.
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