Short and sweet: Measuring experiences of administrative burden

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Sebastian Jilke
Martin Bækgaard
Pamela Herd
Donald Moynihan


Administrative burden, Customer experience, Scale development, Citizen-state interactions


Emerging research on administrative burden has highlighted the need for survey measures that capture people’s experience of government as onerous. Such indicators can connect research and practice, and fulfill government mandates to identify and reduce burdens. This study presents a measure of experienced administrative burden, based on a survey of social welfare users. Using psychometric scale development techniques and a split sample approach, we develop both a single-item and three-item scale that can be applied in user surveys for both research and practitioner purposes. We use predictive validity tests to assess both measures, finding that people are more likely to report burden when they have poorer health, lower education, financial scarcity, are younger and have less program-specific experience. We also provide evidence to demonstrate how the measure captures burden distinct from the customer experience indicators used by the US federal government, while also being shorter and thus less burdensome for respondents.

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