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Does Administrative Burden Deter Young People? Evidence from Summer Jobs Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
16 pages

This study collected and analyzed empirical data to determine whether administrative requirements deter youth from participation in summer job programs.


Administrative burden reduces the effectiveness of public social programs by deterring take up among adults, but we know little about the role these burdens play in public programs for young people. The current study used empirical evidence to assess how different barriers shape adolescents’ take-up of summer jobs programs. In a Philadelphia experiment, the authors found that reminder emails increased application completion by 1.8 percentage points (12.3 percent), with bigger effects from emphasizing short-term monetary gains. In a non-experimental analysis of Philadelphia and Chicago programs, the authors show that without individualized support during enrollment, disconnected youth are less likely to participate when offered a slot than their more advantaged peers. However, offering universal personalized support during enrollment makes them as or more likely to participate. These findings suggest administrative burden does constrain the benefits of public spending on youth programs and that reducing burden can increase gains from social programs for young people. (Published abstract provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022