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Published: 21 March 2018

Study on winter fuel payment wins best paper

Research that addresses the effectiveness of labelling the money given to older people to spend on heating as the Winter Fuel Payment has won an award for a Surrey researcher from the Journal of Public Economics.

Woman turning up heating

Dr Laura Blow is joint author, with Tim Beatty, Thomas Crossley,and Cormac O'Dea, of the paper ‘Cash by any other name? Evidence on labelling from the UK Winter Fuel Payment’. It has received the Atkinson Award for the best paper published in the Journal in the last three years.

The study looked at how the labelling of a welfare payment affected how people spent it. It found that if households are given an unconditional and neutrally-named cash transfer of £100, they would be expected to spend approximately £3 on household fuel. If they are given an unconditional cash transfer called the Winter Fuel Payment in the middle of winter, the researchers estimated that, on average, £47 will be spent on fuel.

The evidence implies that the label of this particular transfer has a critical impact on the behavioral response of those who receive it.

The judges considered the paper a worthy recipient of the award for a number of reasons: “Firstly, the paper addresses an important question which has important implications for the welfare effect and desirability of labelled cash transfers. Secondly, the paper takes care to investigate alternative interpretations of the results and, finally, the editors felt that the paper was very well written and therefore a pleasure to read.”

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