Behavior and Burdens Introduction to the Symposium on Behavioral Implications of Administrative Burden

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Pamela Herd
Donald Moynihan


Administrative burden


The topic of administrative burden is relatively novel, but reflects people’s most common experiences of government: confusion about what is expected of them (learning costs), onerous processes (compliance costs), and associated emotions such as frustration (psychological cost). This symposium applies a behavioral perspective to the topic. We learn, for example, of the role of race and social constructions in people’s beliefs about burdens and their role in social programs. We are given evidence of how burdens restrict access to important public services. Perhaps most usefully, the authors engage with different interventions to find ways to reduce burdens. This ranges from changes in the physical space, to process redesign, to informational nudges. The resulting work provides a broad range of applied empirical insight that shines a light on a pressing area of study.

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