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Government Scheme Overload? Take-up and Targeting in a Multi-Scheme Context

Institutions & Governance India
Policy Context

In both developed and developing countries, governments offer many welfare benefits, but take-up rates remain quite low. Researchers have aimed to understand the drivers behind low take-up rates of individual schemes but not many have investigated the behavioral aspects of take-up in the context of the wider system of welfare benefits. In multi-scheme systems, it is unclear how potential beneficiaries navigate the decision of which schemes to apply to (if any). Given that the application process can be an ordeal, it is important to understand the dynamics behind the decisions potential beneficiaries make as they choose to apply for different benefits. Mitali will investigate the following research question: How does the quantity of government schemes offered to individuals affect the take-up of welfare benefits?

Study Design

Grant funding will be used to support focus group discussions with internal migrants in India (facilitated by local non-profit, Jan Sahas). These focus groups aim to understand the challenges faced by migrants in taking-up welfare programs offered by the Indian government. Focus group discussions will inform a future RCT where researchers present welfare options to eligible individuals in either grouped (listing out multiple programs at a time) or single-choice (providing information on a priority program) formats. Mitali hypothesizes that presenting information in a prioritized manner will reduce delays in applying to schemes, increase
take-up, and lead to more optimal scheme choice.

Results and Policy Lessons


  • Mitali Mathur (UC Davis)

2024 — 2025

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