Using economic analysis to increase civic engagement

Milne, R. G. and Gibb, K. (2016) Using economic analysis to increase civic engagement. Contemporary Social Science, 11(1), pp. 79-91. (doi: 10.1080/21582041.2016.1223870)

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Two well-established insights of economic analysis are applied to four case studies on civic disengagement: the use of incentives implicit in supply-and-demand analysis and marginal analysis. The case studies comprise social security, housing benefit, hospital consultant outpatients and free school meals (FSMs). The case studies support the propositions that incentives can work or are thought to do so, and that the higher the take-up, the larger the benefit. But other factors can override, and significant proportions do not respond in the predicted way. In the case of the spare room subsidy, the policy-makers’ goals were arguably unrealistic. In the case of Working Tax Credit and Pension Credit, the reasons are far from clear. Marginal analysis is used to quantify how much it could cost to increase take-up, when the take-up of a means-tested benefit is already nearly universal, as it had been for FSMs among primary school pupils. The chosen method, universal free provision for P1–P3 children, would seem disproportionate, unless the main reason for this policy has been to impact all children, and not just those who had been means tested. This case study shows the importance of marginal analysis when designing policies to increase civic engagement.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gibb, Professor Ken and Milne, Mr Robin
Authors: Milne, R. G., and Gibb, K.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Contemporary Social Science
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):2158-205X
Published Online:30 September 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Taylor and Francis
First Published:First published in Contemporary Social Science 11(1): 79-91
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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