Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The stigma of claiming benefits: a quantitative study

  • BEN BAUMBERG (a1)

Abstract

Stigma has long been viewed by some as essential to discourage excessive claims, yet seen by others as a cause of non-take-up by people in need and as a form of symbolic violence. More recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the links between shame and poverty (including the role of benefits), and particular concerns about media/political rhetoric in the UK. Yet while our knowledge of benefits stigma has been enhanced by theoretical/qualitative contributions, few quantitative studies examine its extent or patterning. This paper therefore reports the results of a 2012 nationally-representative survey in the UK. It finds sub-types of stigma are reported by 10–19 per cent for each benefit, but 34 per cent report either personal stigma (their own view) or stigmatisation (perceived stigma by others) for at least one benefit, and over one-quarter say a stigma-related reason would make them less likely to claim. One-third of claimants themselves report some degree of stigma around their claim. Against the predictions of ‘dependency culture’ claims, however, respondents in high-claim areas were more likely to stigmatise benefits, both before and after accounting for other factors. The paper concludes by considering lessons for future benefits stigma studies, and policy options to reduce benefits stigma.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Albrekt Larsen, C. (2006), The institutional logic of welfare attitudes: how welfare regimes influence public support, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Baumberg, B. (2012), ‘Three ways to defend social security in Britain’, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 20: 2, 149161.
Baumberg, B., Bell, K., Gaffney, D., with Deacon, R., Hood, C. and Sage, D. (2012), Benefits stigma in Britain, London: Elizabeth Finn Care/Turn2us.
Bertrand, M., Luttmer, E.F.P. and Mullainathan, S. (2000), ‘Network Effects and Welfare Cultures’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115: 3, 10191055.
Besley, T. and Coate, S. (1992), ‘Understanding welfare stigma: taxpayer resentment and statistical discrimination’, Journal of Public Economics, 48, 165183.
Breese, H. (2011), Views on eligibility for tax credits and Child Benefit and any stigma associated with claiming these, HM Revenue and Customs Research Report Number 150, London: HMRC.
Chase, E. and Walker, R. (2013), ‘The Co-construction of Shame in the Context of Poverty: Beyond a Threat to the Social Bond’, Sociology, 47: 4, 739754.
Citizen's Commission on the Future of the Welfare State (1997), It's our welfare: report of the Citizens' Commission on the Future of the Welfare State, London: National Institute for Social Work on behalf of the Commission.
Clark, A.E. (2003), ‘Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data’, Journal of Labor Economics, 21: 2, 323351.
Cox, I. (1968), ‘Families on welfare in New York City’, Welfare in Review, 6: 2, 2226.
Craig, P. (1991), ‘Costs and benefits: a review of research on take-up of income-related benefits’, Journal of Social Policy, 20: 4, 537565.
Daponte, B.O., Sanders, S. and Taylor, L. (1999), ‘Why Do Low-Income Households not Use Food Stamps? Evidence from an Experiment’, The Journal of Human Resources, 34: 3, 612628.
Dean, H. and Taylor-Gooby, P. (1992), Dependency Culture: The Explosion of a Myth, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheef.
Dunn, A. (2011), ‘Only fools? Reconsidering the relationship between commitment to the work ethic and educational attainment’, Journal of Education and Work, 26: 1, 120.
Finn, D., Mason, D., Rahim, N. and Casebourne, J. (2008), Problems in the delivery of benefits, tax credits and employment services, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Garthwaite, K. (2014), ‘Fear of the Brown Envelope: Exploring Welfare Reform with Long-Term Sickness Benefits Recipients’, Social Policy & Administration, 48: 7, 782798.
Goffman, E. (1963), Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, New York: Prentice-Hall.
Golding, P. and Middleton, S. (1982), Images of welfare: press and public attitudes to welfare, Worcester: Billing & Sons Limited.
Gubrium, E.K. and Lødemel, I. (2014), ‘Towards global priniples for dignity-based anti-poverty policies’, in Gubrium, E. K., Pellissery, S. and Lødemel, I. (eds.), The Shame Of It: global perspectives on anti-poverty policies, Bristol: Policy Press.
Handler, J.F. and Hollingsworth, E.J. (1969), ‘Stigma, privacy and other attitudes of welfare recipients’, Stanford Law Review, 22: 1, 119.
Jo, Y.N. (2013), ‘Psycho-social dimensions of poverty: When poverty becomes shameful’, Critical Social Policy, 33, 514531.
Lee, W.-S. and Oguzoglu, U. (2007), ‘Income Support and Stigma Effects for Young Australians’, Australian Economic Review, 40: 4, 369384.
Major, B. and O'Brien, L.T. (2005), ‘The social psychology of stigma’, Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 393421.
Murray, C. (1990/1996), ‘The Emerging British Underclass’, in Lister, R. (ed.), Charles Murray and the Underclass: The Developing Debate, London: Institute of Economic Affairs Health and Welfare Unit.
Page, R. (1984), Stigma, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Pemberton, S., Sutton, E. and Fahmy, E. (2013), A review of the qualitative evidence relating to the experience of poverty and exclusion, Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK (PSE) Working Paper - Methods Series No. 22.
Pinker, R. (1971), Social Theory and Social Policy, London: Heinemann Educational Books.
Rege, M., Telle, K. and Votruba, M. (2012), ‘Social Interaction Effects in Disability Pension Participation: Evidence from Plant Downsizing* ’, The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 114: 4, 12081239.
Reyles, D.Z. (2007), ‘The Ability to go about Without Shame: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators of Shame and Humiliation’, Oxford Development Studies, 35: 4, 405430.
Rogers-Dillon, R. (1995), ‘The dynamics of welfare stigma’, Qualitative Sociology, 18: 4, 439456.
Seccombe, K., James, D. and Walters, K.B. (1998), ‘“They Think You Ain't Much of Nothing”: The Social Construction of the Welfare Mother’, Journal of Marriage and Family, 60: 4, 849865.
Sen, A. (1983), ‘Poor, Relatively Speaking’, Oxford Economic Papers, 35: 2, 153169.
Shildrick, T. and MacDonald, R. (2013), ‘Poverty talk: how people experiencing poverty deny their poverty and why they blame ‘the poor’’, The Sociological Review, 61: 2, 285303.
Spicker, P. (1984), Stigma and social welfare: Croom Helm.
Stone, D.A. (1984), The Disabled State, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Stuber, J. and Kronebusch, K. (2004), ‘Stigma and Other Determinants of Participation in TANF and Medicaid’, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23: 3, 509530.
Stuber, J. and Schlesinger, M. (2006), ‘Sources of stigma for means-tested government programs’, Social Science & Medicine, 63, 933945.
Taylor-Gooby, P. (1976), ‘Rent benefits and tenants’ attitudes: the Batley rent rebate and allowance study', Journal of Social Policy, 5: 1, 3348.
Taylor-Gooby, P. (2013), ‘Why Do People Stigmatise the Poor at a Time of Rapidly Increasing Inequality, and What Can Be Done About It?’, The Political Quarterly, 84: 1, 3142.
Titmuss, R. (1968), Commitment to welfare, London: Allen & Unwin.
Turn2us (2012), New research reveals lack of awareness of available welfare support and benefits changes amongst those on low incomes [press release]. London: Elizabeth Finn Care. http://www.turn2us.org.uk/about_us/media_centre/press_releases/bam_2012_2.aspx [accessed 13/8/2014]
Van Brakel, W.H. (2006), ‘Measuring health-related stigma—A literature review’, Psychology, Health & Medicine, 11: 3, 307334.
van Oorschot, W. (2000), ‘Who should get what, and why? On deservingness criteria and the conditionality of solidarity among the public’, Policy & Politics, 28: 1, 3348.
van Oorschot, W. (2002), ‘Targeting welfare: on the functions and dysfunctions of means testing in social policy’, in Townsend, P. and Gordon, D. (eds.), World poverty: new policies to defeat an old enemy, Bristol: Policy Press.
Walker, R. (2005), Social security and welfare: concepts and comparisons, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Walker, R., Kyomuhendo, G.B., Chase, E., Choudhry, S., Gubrium, E.K., Jo, Y.N., Lødemel, I., Mathew, L., Mwiine, A., Pellissery, S. and Ming, Y. (2013), ‘Poverty in Global Perspective: Is Shame a Common Denominator?’, Journal of Social Policy, 42: 02, 215233.
Who Benefits? (2013), Campaign launches to give voice to people supported by benefits [press release]. London: Who Benefits? on behalf of The Children's Society, Crisis, Gingerbread, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Mind. http://blog.whobenefits.org.uk/post/65117143114/launch-release [accessed 13/8/2014]
Williamson, J.B. (1974), ‘The Stigma of Public Dependency: A Comparison of Alternative Forms of Public Aid to the Poor’, Social Problems, 22: 2, 213228.

The stigma of claiming benefits: a quantitative study

  • BEN BAUMBERG (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed