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Child Benefit Support and Method of Payment: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Belgium

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TitleChild Benefit Support and Method of Payment: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Belgium
Publication TypeWorking Paper
AuthorsHuysentruyt, M., & Lefevere E.
PublisherUA/Centrum voor Sociaal Beleid Herman Deleeck
Place PublishedAntwerpen
Year of Publication2008
NumberWP 08/02
Abstract

We present evidence from a randomized field experiment explictly designed to shed light on the role of standard information, goal framed information, and decision task complexity in individuals' choice of payment method. The experiment encouraged 19,707 Clients of the Belgian National Office for Family Benefits to change from benefit payment by check to payment via direct transfer via a one-time mailing. The direct mailings multiplied the switching rate of these treated individuals (relative to the controls) by more than four times, showing that simply providing information can result in a very large behavioural change. Interestingly, foreigners were much more reponsive to the direct mailings than Belgians. Furthermore, simple, low-cost supplements to the standard information can amplify the magnitude of the behavioural responses. Adding both a flyer and a specific plan supplement to the standard letter not only yielded the largest effects on individuals' method of payment choice, but also appeared to speed up the decision to switch. We provide a simple, behavioural economics' interpretation to account for our results.

Citation Key1349
Universiteit Antwerpen - University of Antwerp
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