“You didn't ask, so you don't know”: Information and administrative burden in social benefit claims

Noam Tarshish, Roni Holler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Encounters with welfare state bureaucracy are often burdensome and might even result in administrative exclusion and non-take up. With the growing scholarly interest in administrative burden experiences, a particular focus has been on learning costs, with evidence suggesting that difficulty obtaining reliable and useful information is one of their most fundamental aspects. We still lack a systematic conceptualization of bureaucratic information and its various dimensions. In this non-representative exploratory study, we draw on interviews with 15 Israeli social benefit claimants to delve deeper into the nature of the information required in encounters with welfare state bureaucracy. Using thematic analysis, we identify five dimensions of such information: primary information on the existence of the benefit, as opposed to secondary procedural information on the claiming process; universal, wide-ranging available information, in contrast to personalized information; one- versus two-directional information transfer; covert, informal and dynamic, as opposed to overt, publicly available information; and finally, online versus offline information. We suggest that this exploratory conceptual framework can serve as a starting point for future studies to develop deeper understanding of the information citizens need in their encounters with welfare state bureaucracy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Social Policy & Administration published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • administrative burden
  • information
  • learning burden
  • social benefits
  • take-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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