Family Instability and Material Hardship: Results from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


This study used longitudinal, nationally representative data from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation to explore how each of six sources of instability (employment shocks, household formation shocks, residential changes, income changes, household size changes, and disability shocks) impacted the key domains of material hardship (food insecurity and medical, housing and essential expense hardship). The study found that income shocks and having a person with a disability join the household were the only consistent triggers for all types of material hardship, and that overall, sources of instability had an asymmetrical impact on material hardship; that is, sources of instability did not help households when they were removed as much as they harmed households when introduced. These results provided a nuanced understanding of the household dynamics that result in economic and family instability in the US and provided new evidence regarding why some households were unable to cover basic needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-372
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Disability
  • Income instability
  • Instability
  • Material hardship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics

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