Human Capital and Administrative Burden: The Role of Cognitive Resources in Citizen-State Interactions

Forthcoming, Public Administration Review

39 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019

See all articles by Julian Christensen

Julian Christensen

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science

Lene Aarøe

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science

Martin Bækgaard

Aarhus University

Pamela Herd

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy

Donald P. Moynihan

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy

Date Written: November 1, 2019

Abstract

One means by which the state reinforces inequality is by imposing administrative burdens that loom larger for citizens with lower levels of human capital. Integrating insights from various disciplines, we focus on one aspect of human capital, cognitive resources. We outline a model that explains how burdens and cognitive resources, especially executive functioning, interrelate. We then provide illustrative examples, by highlighting three common life factors – scarcity, health problems, and age-related cognitive decline. These factors create a human capital Catch-22, increasing people’s likelihood of needing state assistance while simultaneously undermining the cognitive resources required to negotiate the burdens they encounter while seeking such assistance. The result is to reduce access to state benefits and increase inequality. We conclude by calling for scholars of behavioral public administration and public administration more generally to incorporate more attention to human capital into their research.

Suggested Citation

Christensen, Julian and Aarøe, Lene and Bækgaard, Martin and Herd, Pamela and Moynihan, Donald P., Human Capital and Administrative Burden: The Role of Cognitive Resources in Citizen-State Interactions (November 1, 2019). Forthcoming, Public Administration Review, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3481440 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3481440

Julian Christensen

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bartholins Allé è
DK-8000 Aarhus, 8000
Denmark

Lene Aarøe

Aarhus University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
Aarhus, DK-8000
Denmark

Martin Bækgaard

Aarhus University ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Denmark

Pamela Herd

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy ( email )

Old North, Suite 100
37th & O Streets NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Donald P. Moynihan (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy ( email )

Old North, Suite 100
37th & O Streets NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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