To err is human, and as such, administrative errors are an inevitable component of current and future welfare state bureaucracy. Hitherto, while studies on administrative burden have shown us that routine interactions with welfare bureaucracy are often burdensome, very little is known about the nature of these interactions when something goes wrong. Most social policy and public administration scholarship focus on ex-ante analysis of administrative errors, with only scant research devoted to ex-post analysis of how claimants experience such errors once they occur, and the types of costs they may incur. This article contributes to the growing field of administrative burden research by examining welfare claimants' experiences of administrative errors. Analysis of 19 interviews with Israeli benefit recipients uncovered two themes. The first related to the process of correcting errors, including identifying and communicating them to the system. The second theme addressed the consequences of errors: on the one hand, economic and emotional costs including loss of trust in the system, and on the other, acquiring bureaucratic skills. These findings highlight bureaucratic errors as a critical and unique site of learning burden, as well as the need for a human contact to allow claimants to better deal with their consequences.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. International Journal of Social Welfare published by Akademikerförbundet SSR (ASSR) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- administrative burden
- administrative errors
- learning costs
- social security benefits