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
Pages (from-to)631-660
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research was provided through the small grant program at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin and Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Funding for the Women’s Employment Survey was provided by grants from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Mental Health (R24-MH51363).


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Why Do Women Enter and Exit From Material Hardship?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this