Carrots or sticks: The use of incentives to achieve social policy goals in Australia
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Using incentives to promote policy and program agendas has become an established strategy across various arenas of government intervention in Australia. A range of financial benefits such as tax rebates, concessions, refunds or discounts are widely used as inducements or 'carrots' to increase compliance to government agendas. At the other end of the incentive spectrum, penalties such as increased taxes, fines or social security benefit cuts are applied as 'sticks' to achieve policy directives. To date there has been little critical evaluation of incentives used in social policy domains in Australia. In this paper we critically analyse ten initiatives in health and social policy which employed incentives to increase participation and compliance. Analysis revealed that incentives are highly targeted, centrally controlled and usually aimed at achieving short term or political goals rather than long term outcomes. Incentives are largely directed at changing individual behaviour and there are observed inequities in whether 'carrots' or 'sticks' are applied.
New Global Development: The Journal of International Social Welfare