When you have questions about unemployment insurance, income taxes, Medicaid, or SNAP benefits, how easily can you get help? It depends greatly on where you live. Chicago Booth’s Devin G. Pope and his coauthors enlisted a small army of research assistants to call each state with questions about various programs, in order to see how often they could get live help. Their success rate varied widely—and they found that states that were difficult to reach with questions about one program often were hard to reach across the board.

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