Why Do Women Enter and Exit From Material Hardship?

Colleen H. Heflin, J. S. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Current critiques of the official federal poverty measure have led to a growing interest in alternative measures of well-being, such as individual reports of the inability to meet basic needs. This article considers a wide set of risk factors for four different forms of material hardship (food insufficiency, utility disconnection, unmet medical needs, and housing problems) using data from a panel study of single mothers. Specifically, the authors analyze the role of maternal health, household composition, and income on entrances into and exits from material hardship. The results show that there is a great deal of heterogeneity across forms of material hardship but that in general, the predictions of the authors' conceptual model are confirmed. Determinants of entrances into material hardship differ from those that predict exits, suggesting that interventions to help families exit from material hardship may need to address different issues than those that triggered the entrance into material hardship in the first place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-660
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • food insufficiency
  • material hardship
  • poverty
  • welfare
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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