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Does receipt of public benefits reduce material hardship in low-income families with children?

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  • Wu, Chi-Fang
  • Eamon, Mary Keegan

Abstract

Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (1996 and 2001 panels), we determined that experiencing four types of material hardships (inadequate housing, inability to meet basic expenses, unmet medical/dental need, and food insufficiency) was common in low-income families with children. These hardships existed even though 85% of the families received at least one public benefit during the previous year. Receipt of public benefits also was related to an increased risk of experiencing all four types of material hardships. Finally, we attempted to adjust for one type of selection bias by considering families' need and their failure to access public benefits or additional benefits. We found that families reporting a need and failing to access public benefits for a variety of reasons, or to access additional benefits regardless of the number of benefits received, were more likely to experience material hardship compared with families receiving public benefits and reporting no need. These findings suggest that public benefits are insufficient to fully alleviate material hardship, and barriers to accessing public benefits may be one reason. If these families were able to access benefits that meet basic needs, receipt of public benefits might reduce material hardship.

Suggested Citation

  • Wu, Chi-Fang & Eamon, Mary Keegan, 2010. "Does receipt of public benefits reduce material hardship in low-income families with children?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1262-1270, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:32:y:2010:i:10:p:1262-1270
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wu, Chi-Fang & Eamon, Mary Keegan, 2010. "Need for and barriers to accessing public benefits among low-income families with children," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 58-66, January.
    2. Maria J. Hanratty, 2006. "Has the Food Stamp program become more accessible? Impacts of recent changes in reporting requirements and asset eligibility limits," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 603-621.
    3. Huffman, Sonya Kostova & Jensen, Helen H., 2003. "Do Food Assistance Programs Improve Household Food Security?: Recent Evidence From The United States," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22219, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Dean Jolliffe & Craig Gundersen & Laura Tiehen & Joshua Winicki, 2005. "Food Stamp Benefits and Child Poverty," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 569-581.
    5. Susan E. Mayer & Christopher Jencks, 1989. "Poverty and the Distribution of Material Hardship," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(1), pages 88-114.
    6. Craig Gundersen & Victor Oliveira, 2001. "The Food Stamp Program and Food Insufficiency," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 875-887.
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:1:67-74_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Maria Cancian & Daniel R. Meyer, 2004. "Alternative measures of economic success among TANF participants: Avoiding poverty, hardship, and dependence on public assistance," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 531-548.
    9. Iceland, John & Bauman, Kurt J., 2007. "Income poverty and material hardship: How strong is the association?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 376-396, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eamon, Mary Keegan & Wu, Chi-Fang, 2011. "Effects of unemployment and underemployment on material hardship in single-mother families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 233-241, February.
    2. Notten, G, 2013. "Measuring performance : does the assessment depend on the poverty proxy?," MERIT Working Papers 031, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. Geranda Notten & Anne-Catherine Guio, 2016. "The impact of social transfers on income poverty and material deprivation," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/17, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

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