HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
HKS Working Paper No. RWP22-022
This paper examines the role of stigma, an often cited, but understudied barrier to take-up of safety net programs. In two field experiments (N = 117,073), we find that subtle changes to the framing of rental assistance—one highly stigmatized benefit—increased interest in the program by 36% compared to providing information only and increased completed program applications by about 11%, with potentially larger effects for renters of color. Two subsequent online experiments (N = 1,258) confirm that these effects are driven by a reduction in internalized stigma, as opposed to a change in how potential beneficiaries understand the program.
Lasky-Fink, Jessica, and Elizabeth Linos. "It’s Not Your Fault: Reducing Stigma Increases Take-up of Government Programs." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP22-022, November 2022.