Cash by Any Other Name? Evidence on Labelling From the UK Winter Fuel Payment.

Beatty et al. (2011)
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Summary by 
Mark Egan

The authors study the UK Winter Fuel Payment (WFP), a cash transfer to households aged over 60. The WFP can range from £100-£300 and is usually given in November / December. Standard economic theory implies that the labelling of cash transfers or cash-equivalents (e.g. child benefits, food stamps) should have no effect on spending patterns but this is not the case here. Exploiting sharp eligibility criteria in a regression discontinuity design, the authors found evidence of a behavioural effect of the labelling. If households were given an unconditional, neutrally-named cash transfer of £100, they would be expected to spend £3 of it on fuel. If it is called Winter Fuel Payment, they spend an average of £41 on fuel.