Cultural Attitudes and Unemployment Benefit Take Up: Evidence from the Swiss Language Border

Does stigma prevent individuals from applying to unemployment benefits even if they are eligible? We exploit the cultural divide at the Swiss language border which separates German from French speaking municipalities to show that cultural values are an important determinant for unemployment take up. French-speakers–who hold cultural values associated with lower stigma towards unemployment benefit take up– are consistently more likely to apply for unemployment benefits within the first six months after job loss. This result holds also for workers who live on different sides of the language border but who were employed at the same firm before job loss.